Henrico County VA
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On the road again

Henrico church donates vehicles to single mothers in need
Pastor Michael Jones (at left) and his wife, Pastor
Tanya Jones (at left), pose with two recipients
of cars donated by Village of Faith Ministries.
Michael Jones remembers how helpless he felt as a child, watching his mother remain in a difficult relationship with a boyfriend simply because she needed reliable transportation and he owned a car.

“He held the keys of the car over her head,” Jones said of the man.

The experience made a lasting impression on Jones, the pastor of Sandston-based Village of Faith Ministries, a 1,500-member church that also holds services in Midlothian.

“I did not want for any single mother to go through something like that,” he recalled.

So in 2007, Village of Faith Ministries began its ‘Cars for Christ’ program, which receives donated used cars from church members, repairs them and donates them back to single mothers in the community. In the four years since, the church has given away 13 vehicles – including three last week to surprised recipients during a New Year’s Eve extravaganza at the Arthur Ashe Center in Richmond.

The women who apply or are nominated for the giveaways must meet a list of criteria, Jones said. They must have jobs and be able to pay for their own insurance, gasoline, maintenance and other aspects of a vehicle. The church typically receives two to three dozen nominations each year.

The vehicles are not handouts, Jones said, but rather gifts that permit the women to meet their family obligations and create new opportunities for themselves and their children.

“We just want to empower them economically to make their lives better,” Jones said.

Each year, the giveaways are emotional for Jones and his wife, Pastor Tayna Jones, who also was raised by a single mother. The recipients do not know they’ve been selected until their names are called, and their reactions are heartfelt.

“I can’t look at them sometimes, because I’ll cry,” Jones said.

He’s hopeful that other churches will begin similar programs to receive and repair cars, then give them away to deserving single moms.

“We want to be able to get to the point where there are no single moms without a car,” he said.

The donated cars received by Village of Faith have come from members and are repaired primarily through the volunteer efforts of mechanics who are also members of the church, Jones said. But the recipients of the cars are not always members of his church – or even any other. Two of this year’s three recipients don’t attend Village of Faith.

For Jones, the program represents the true meaning of giving and the holiday season.

“It kind of restores hope in the American dream,” he said. “There’s still a lot of good that goes on that we can all do together.

Though many car owners trade in their vehicles rather than donate them, Jones helps some will reconsider.

“That car is going to mean a whole lot more than $1,500 or $2,000 to the person who gets it,” he said.

That’s become clear to him during the past four years, as he’s interacted with the recipients. The program provides a way for the church’s members to see the faces of those they’ve helped – something Jones prefers to the impersonal option of simply making a monetary donation to a cause.

“It’s easy for us to cut a check, but we want our church members to serve,” he said. “It is through our community outreach programs that we are able to see what our community is in need of and how the church can rebuild trust with the community.

“If the doors of our church closed tomorrow, I know that there are 13 women that we have helped. It’s a heck of a way to start a new year.”

For details about donating a car to Village of Faith Ministries, or to learn how to help, call the church at 328-3404 or visit http://www.myvofm.org.


Community

Garden tails

The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.

Western Henrico Rotary helps fund Midwives For Haiti Jeep


Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.

The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.

Agencies combine on new entry point to Chickahominy


Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.

The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Take in a show at several locations this weekend! West End Comedy will provide laughs at HATTheatre; the production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” will close Sunday; and the youth theatre company CharacterWorks will present “Footloose” at The Steward School. Another show perfect for the kids – “Despicable Me 2” is playing at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center tonight. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Is there an Echo in here?

‘Earth to Echo’ aims to become this generation’s ‘ET’
It’s no secret that all found-footage genre movies are the same. Grab a couple of characters, give one of them a camera, and expose them to something supernatural that’s content to lurk just off-screen until the last five minutes. Everything else will just fall into place.

But that formula isn’t particularly family friendly, if only because that thing waiting a few feet to the left of the cast is usually plotting their violent doom.

That’s what sets Earth to Echo apart from the pack. It, too, follows a group of characters armed with a camera and a tendency to encounter unknown life forms. But all those familiar parts have been rearranged just enough to make it suitable for a much younger audience. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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