Several single moms without reliable transportation—some of them from White Bear Lake—recently received a much-needed gift through Newgate School’s “Wheels for Women” program so they have one less thing to stress out about. The gift? A car.
The program began in the 90s with families donating vehicles to the school, which is located in Minneapolis. Newgate takes in donated cars, low-income young adult students work on the cars to gain highly desirable auto mechanic skills in their tuition-free school, and a few cars are then donated to single moms so they have reliable transportation. The school is dedicated to repairing and giving away at least two cars per month.
“When moms have to take the bus to have their kids go get ice cream, hearing stories like that, I’m like, ‘Wow,’ I want to do something about that,” says Richard Herod III, owner of White Bear Mitsubishi.
Herod was first inspired by a dealership working with a similar program in Iowa, then searched for one locally and found Newgate and “Wheels for Women.” He suggested the school partner with local car dealerships to increase the number of donated cars per year. Newgate loved the idea, and in 2019, kicked off the program with a “12 Days of Christmas” celebration that December—the school gave away 12 cars.
More than 10 local dealerships are now working in partnership with the program to help increase the number of cars donated to the school. Not all of the donated cars are part of the “Wheels for Women program, but for two years in a row, the dealerships and Newgate have collectively donated 12 cars to mothers in need.
Attention was first drawn to the issue of unreliable transportation when the school started receiving phone calls from mothers about why their kids were unable to get to school on time. “It was difficult for them to maintain employment, to get their kids to school, to do all sorts of daily activities that we all take for granted,” says Blythe Severson, director of Newgate School.
In recent years, the school has been getting 20 or more “Wheels for Women” car applications a month.
“When I learned about them, their mission and their program, I definitely wanted to partner with them, says Herod. "And I love the mission of helping moms get to work."
If you’re interested in donating a car, or know of a single mom in need of reliable transportation, head to newgateschool.org for more information.
White Bear Mitsubishi
3400 Highway 61 N.; White Bear Lake
2900 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis