Photo and article by Fred Kroner: Kathryn Woodcock stands by the donated 2005 Chrysler Town and Country van she received in May from Mattoon-based New Life Car Care. Her family had endured nine years without transportation of their own. Daniel Craw repairs donated vehicles and makes sure they are ready for the road before he makes donations, based on need. He first started doing this in 2001.
Kathryn Woodcock’s life is far from perfect, but her attitude is exemplary.
A resident of Meadowview Apartments, Woodcock is a single mother of three who is on disability.
“For nine years,” she said, “we were without a vehicle.”
Folks who live in a community with a taxi service or mass transportation can manage to get around effectively.
Mahomet is not one of those communities.
For years, Woodcock and her family were reliant upon the grace and generosity of friends.
Sometimes, they were just stuck.
“It was pretty terrifying,” she said. “A couple times, we were at the hospital at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning trying to get home.”
Her fortunes changed earlier this year thanks to some advice dispensed by her doctor.
Woodcock was told about a radio advertisement played on WGBL promoting a Mattoon-based service, New Life Car Care, which fixed up donated vehicles and distributed them to needy individuals without charge.
“I was praying for a car,” Woodcock said. “This was a huge blessing. My
life is so changed.
“It’s a beautiful thing.”
Woodcock has re-enrolled at Parkland College and needs five more courses to earn her degree in social work.
She is also volunteering with four charities, including Restoration Urban Ministries and Jesus is the Way Prison Ministry.
Her 10-year-old son, Isaac, is also benefitting.
“Last month, he got in his first extra-curricular activity,” Woodcock said. “He’s in band and just loves it.
“He’s on that clarinet every day. He’s grateful to have the opportunity.”
Daniel Craw is the face of New Life Car Care.
An Illinois Department of Transportation employee, Craw does automobile maintenance work on the side.
“I started this (in 2001) as a car ministry,” Craw said. “As it got going, I realized there’s a need for this kind of service and it needed to be more in the public.”
In 2007, he turned it into an independent public charity, which is a 501c3 organization. All donations are tax-deductible.
“I repair the cars for free and make sure they’re safe to be on the road before I give them to anyone,” Craw said.
Last year, he received 25 donated vehicle and gave 20 away.
“The others had to be junked,” said Craw, who is on the same pace for repairs and giveaways in 2017.
“I’m blessed God is using me to do this for people,” Craw said. “A lot of people literally have no one else to turn to.
“Friends can only get them so far.”
Kathryn Woodcock can relate.
She got her 2005 Chrysler Town and Country van in May and had to show proof of insurance before the title was given to her.
She doesn’t like to remember the previous nine years.
“A car is such a necessity,” she said. “The toll it took on me emotionally and mentally was so high.
“Some days, I’d get the kids off to school and I’d cry. I could not express the level of torment I went through.”
For years, Woodcock took advantage of a service known as C-CART (Champaign County Area Rural Transit System).
“It was an integral part for me,” she said, “but it was a struggle to get groceries and pay for the C-CART rides.”
And now, Woodcock uses her ride as a vehicle to help others.
Last Friday, she heard about a pregnant woman who was new to the area and needed food. She took her to Helping Hands for an emergency pickup.
“I don’t want no one going hungry,” Woodcock said. “A vehicle changes so many things.
“I can turn the key and drive my kids (two of whom still live at home) to where they need to be. I take care of my elderly grandmother in Champaign.
People say I have the ‘Jesus-mobile.’ “
Craw has been working out of his home for the past 16 years. He recently purchased a property with a two-car detached garage to use as a workshop.
Those seeking cars — and he said, “I have a stack of application to go through” — aren’t the only one with needs. Craw is seeking help as well.
“I need volunteer mechanics,” he said, “and I’d love some help with fundraising.
“I have bills I’d never had before and I need donations to keep the lights on so we can keep doing what we’ve been doing. I have a ton of people who need help, and we need help, too.”
Woodcock is adamant and unwavering in her support.
“I’ve been through a lot,” she said. “As I step back into the fire (finishing college and seeking employment), I can be honest and say, ‘This is not a hopeless situation.
“It is important to tell others there is hope. No matter what you just went through, you can have joy today.”