KOMO viewers help Problem Solvers resolve van donation dilemma

Even with195 thousand miles on the engine, Mark and Becky Thiele say their 2001 mini-van still provides reliable transportation.

The couple wanted to donate their van to a family in need, but discovered most charities don't get full value from a vehicle donation.

"I thought maybe it'd be good for somebody else who might need a car that's still in very good condition." , Mark Thiele explained when we met at the couple's Snohomish County home in July.

My initial report on the Thiele's donation dilemma showed you how most vehicle donation programs involve a private third party that aranges for the vehicles to be sold at auction. These third parties can take 50% or more of the proceeds as commission- which means many charities only get a small fraction of what the car is worth. Charities know this, but view it as money they wouldn't have otherwise.

After my report aired, I got a number of calls and emails with suggestions of organizations that might be able put the Thiele's van to good use. One suggestion in particular struck a nerve.

As luck would have it- the 2001 mini-van answered a prayer for Shelly Willis, Director of a small non-profit in Olympia called Family Education and Support Services.

FamilyESS help parents get education, counseling and other tools they need to create strong, stable families and raise happy, healthy children. Sometimes that includes transporation.

"It was inspirational to me to find somebody who wanted to give, and then connect it to a family." , said Willis. "It's what keeps us going."

After Thiel reached out to Willis, Willis contacted Thurston County Health Nurse Bonnie Peterson and automotive shop owner Bron Lingrun. Peterson, who works with local families- introduced Willis to Cynthia Lormor, her 7 year old son Ryan, and 12 year old daughter, Kailey. Kailey's special needs requires a reclining wheelchair, and full-time nursing care. Lormor is in desperate need of a reliable van to transport her dauther safety.

"It's really hard to get her to doctor's appointments or to school or to anything like that.", Lormor explained, saying her current van was on it's last legs.

Lormor was grateful when she learned about the van donation. We arranged for her and her kids to see it for the first time.

"Wow!" said Lormor, almost speechless.

"This is a really cool van!" exclaimed Ryan, as Kailey watch with smiling eyes.

Surrounded by the village of volunteers that helped change her life, Lormor was not the only one fighting back tears.

"Thank you guys." she said, giving Mark and Becky Thiele big hugs.

"Thank you. What you guys are doing- it's a Godsend." , Lormor added.

Instead of being sold at auction, and then sold again on a used car lot, Mark and Becky's donation will help take the weight of the world off a deserving mom's shoulders- for free.

Bron's Automotive is finishing the mechanical repairs, tie-downs will be added to secure Kailey's wheelchair and Willis says Lormor should have the keys and title in a couple of weeks. Family Education and Support Services is hoping to connect with someone able to donate a wheelchair lift that will make it easier to move Kailey's wheelchair in and out of the van.

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