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Volunteer Spotlight: Janet Smalley, Vehicle Donations Assistant

Over the past few years, Janet Smalley has been a dedicated volunteer with the IRC in Charlottesville, serving as both a family mentor and helping out in the office as a casework assistant. Last year, she decided to take on the role of vehicle donations assistant, as she was eager to interact with more IRC clients and donors. In this role, Janet meets with both potential donors to explain the donation process and test-drive the vehicle, and takes IRC clients to the DMV and to get car insurance, in addition to handling all related paperwork. She has loved getting to hear stories and make connections with such a diverse group of people during the past year in this role. 

Janet Smalley, Vehicle Donations Assistant Photo: Janet Smalley

The very first client that Janet helped transfer a car to was a doctor who had been resettled in Charlottesville from Afghanistan. At the time, he was working the night shift at a lab outside of town, and in order to get to his job, “he would have to take the city bus as far as it would go, and then walk for an hour more,” as Janet described, “so having a car changed his whole world.”

With the vehicle-dependent culture that is so prevalent in most of the U.S., a donated car can be life-changing for a new refugee struggling with transportation. Donated vehicles help refugees travel to work, regain control over their lives, and achieve self-sufficiency. Thus far this year, Janet has helped transfer ten different cars from our generous donors to some very grateful IRC clients. As she has observed over the past few months, “there are so many obstacles that people have to overcome in order to do something that many of us often take for granted—the ability to drive.” Thank you, Janet, for your dedication to this work!

An IRC client drives his newly acquired vehicle. Photo: IRC

*If you are interested in donating a used car that is in good condition and has a current inspection, or have more questions about the vehicle donation process, please contact Janet.Smalley [at] rescue.org.

*If you are interested in volunteering to help refugees practice their driving skills or study for their driving tests, please contact Kiran.Vanlengen-Welty [at] rescue.org.