Stuart sits in his new car for the first time

In August, non-profit upstart Driving Hope donated its first vehicle to a graduate from the program at Jessie’s Place. This afternoon the organization again provided much-needed transportation to another client, this time a current resident at Royal Pines in Hayden, Alabama.

Driving Hope receives donated vehicles and then ensures they are mechanically reliable and safe before partnering with the Mission to find a new owner. Scotty Colson, the Mission’s continuum of care director, and Driving Hope founder Roger Brown, sort through the numerous applications looking for the best fit for the particular vehicle that’s available.

Stuart became the proud owner of a 2007 Toyota Prius during a presentation at the Shepura Men’s Center Thursday afternoon. When asked about how this generosity would impact his life, he was quick to respond that there were actually few ways that it wouldn’t improve his day-to-day needs.

Stuart (left) shaking hands with Driving Hope founder Roger Brown

Stuart has been taking online classes in engineering technology through Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, but said that after this semester the program is going to incorporate hands-on training which would require regular attendance at the school’s campus 15 minutes away. Without reliable transportation, his education would likely have come to a premature close.

“I needed a car by January,” Stuart said, “and there wasn’t a way I could see that happening. I may have to be there multiple times per day, several days a week. There would have been no real way to do that. If I said that not having transportation wasn’t a worry, I’d be lying. Now I know I’ll be able to move forward.”

From left: Mission executive director Michael Coleman, Royal Pines director George King, Stuart -the vehicle’s new owner, and Driving Hope founder Roger Brown

The Prius will also enable Stuart to begin looking for a job and start saving money for when he’s ready to transition out of the program. And while the education and work needs the vehicle will help solidify are significant, there’s also an emotional door that this new freedom opens.

“I didn’t go on pass during the whole first phase of the program,” Stuart said reflecting on his first seven months at Royal Pines. “My parents don’t have a car and I haven’t been able to see them or my sister and nieces or nephews. Now I’ll be able to visit my family.”

Stuart went on to describe the challenges he, and others, face when trying to rebuild a life “from nothing” and stressed that the generosity of others is never taken for granted. Looking at his demeanor and new-found enthusiasm, it was easy to see that this donation would not only help travel new roads into a much brighter future, but had also ushered in a confidence, a hope, that had previously seemed distant, if visible at all. And this, after all, is the very feeling that the Mission wishes to resurrect through its programs and Driving Hope aims to fortify in providing a means to independence.

Stuart driving away in his Prius

“I’ve never had my own vehicle,” he said. “I’ve never really had anything in my name and it’s the first time I’ve had to get insurance on anything,” he added with a chuckle. “This [car] has opened up a whole new list of opportunities and I want to thank Driving Hope, the staff at Royal Pines, and the Mission as a whole for everything.”

For more information about how to donate a vehicle to the Driving Hope partnership, please contact Scotty Colson at