The organization helps participants get around | News

Lisa Briscoe, a recovering drug addict, says having a car allows her to help others recover.

“Man, that saved my life,” said Briscoe, who received a car through the Advantage AutoWorks program.

The program provides vehicles through a low-cost, one-year loan to qualified graduates of Muskogee’s Bridges Out of Poverty, a program for people struggling to move out of poverty.

Bridges Out of Poverty director Treasure McKenzie called AutoWorks “a game changer for our graduates.”

“Reliable transportation is crucial for a family to achieve stability,” McKenzie said. “Dependency on friends and public transportation can be a barrier to getting and keeping a job.”

Briscoe said she had been recovering from substance abuse for two years and was looking to become a peer recovery support specialist.

“One of the things that hindered my growth was that I didn’t have a vehicle,” she said. “With my meetings and my trips to church.”

She said she spoke with McKenzie, filled out the paperwork, and “got lucky to get a car.”

“I was screaming that day,” Briscoe said.

Briscoe said he was offered a job in Tahlequah within five months of getting the car.

“There’s no way I could have gone back and forth,” she said.

Advantage AutoWorks founder and director Dan Morris said he heard about Bridges Out of Poverty six or seven years ago.

“As I got involved, I noticed that one of the biggest issues for people in generational poverty was transportation,” he said. “In Muskogee, transportation means cars.”

He recalled that someone had donated a car to Bridges Out of Poverty to sell for $500.

“It was probably worth $5,000,” he said. “We arranged a loan through Mabrey Bank, with Renee Fredrick, and she made a $500 loan for one of our grads and we basically co-signed for the loan. And we gave the woman that car.”

Morris recalled how happy he felt to be awarded the car.

“It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I saw happy people, crying and reacting. It just moved me and I thought, this is what I was supposed to do.”

Morris said Advantage AutoWorks awarded 12 cars to Bridges graduates.

“Our goal is to do one a month,” he said. “We’ve been slowed down tremendously because of COVID.”

He said people who complete the program can apply for a car.

“It’s kind of on a need basis,” he said. “And it all depends on the availability of cars.”

Typically, donated cars are older vehicles with high mileage, but still valuable vehicles that are thoroughly inspected and repaired before being sold to a graduate.

A partnership with Mabrey Bank offers the recipient a small loan repayable over one year, according to a press release. This provides the organization with funds for title transfer and initial vehicle insurance.

Briscoe said she made her last payment of $50 this month.

“I have really bad credit, of course, because I was in an active addiction,” she said. “It helps us to become responsible. And it helps me to be able to buy a future car because it has improved my credit score thanks to my payment of $50.”

Any remaining money goes into a maintenance fund to help keep the car running for the next year, according to a press release. The graduate must use the tools they learned in class to repay the loan and keep it insured.

Morris said the program needs cars to provide for other future graduates. He said there were three people waiting for a car, but only one was available.

“We can give them a full retail value tax deduction,” he said.

you can help

• To donate a car or make a monetary contribution to Advantage AutoWorks, go to their website at https://advantageautoworks.org or call Dan Morris, (918) 686-6211 or Treasure McKenzie, (918) 840-5331.

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