Mad Wheels exists to reach out to the needy people in our community by serving them in practical ways, providing motor vehicles on a full time (as a gift) or part-time (loan) basis, as required.
What begun as a dream and a one-hundred dollar bill turned out to be an ongoing, long-term project, seeing unwanted cars reconditioned to a professional standard and eventually given away to those who find themselves in difficulties.
While the opportunity to give away a motor vehicle never ceases to bring joy to the Mad Wheels team, the relationships established both with the community and within the workshop is inspiring.
Mad Wheels is run by volunteers who willingly give of their time and skill to work on cars as a team, week after week.
They are always looking for help! The crew are always looking for cars, tools, car parts, machinery, expertise and funds to run this project. Why send your vehicle to the wreckers or sell it? Let the Mad Wheels team repair it and give it to someone in the community who needs a car badly.
After a prayer, a ceremonial handing over of the keys and some tears, they jumped in and drove their vehicles away.
Without paying a cent.
A 1984 blue Ford Falcon wagon went to Kathy Mason, of Ravenswood, and replaces her last car that was torched in her driveway.
A silver 1980 Corona was given to John Kamara, of Launceston, a recent refugee from Sierra Leone who will use it to commute to study law next year in Hobart while living in Launceston.
And a gleaming brown 1970 Toyota Corona went to Glenn Watts, of Beaconsfield, who will use it to drive to Hobart this Christmas to see his kids.
As if the cars weren’t enough, each car contained a Christmas hamper for the new owners.
As you can see, this is no ordinary car yard.
Making A Difference Wheels (Mad Wheels) is an initiative of the Door of Hope Christian Church and helps out needy people in the community.
“The basic programme gets people to give us their old cars, do them up using volunteer labour and give them away to needy people,” said team leader Terry Osbourne.
The programme relies on donations. More than 40 local businesses and the State Government have chipped in to make this possible.
“We’ve got volunteer mechanics, spray painters, some people donate tyres or pay the money for the registration. Everybody helps, from within the church or outside,” Greg Howell of Mad Wheels said. Mrs Mason was contacted by Door of Hope after they read of her plight in The Examiner, and she shed a few tears when presented with the keys yesterday.
“It’s a great help. I was so excited when I got the call the car was ready last night,” she said. Car recipients must first apply and be chosen from a selection procedure which recognises needy families who can afford to run a car.
At least one car is given away every month, with no strings attached.
This is not your typical car yard though – none of the vehicles have prices on their windscreens since they are not for sale.
They are to be given away.
An initiative of the Door of Hope Christian Church, the Making A Difference Wheels (Madwheels) project is providing free motor vehicles to people in need in the Launceston community.
Team leader Terry Osborne said that the project was an important part of the church’s community outreach programme.
“The basics of setting the programme up was to get people to give us their old cars, do them up with volunteer labour and give them away to needy people,” he said.
The generosity of the local community is clear, with 36 cars already donated to the programme.
And although some of the vehicles have clearly seen better days, many appear ready to drive away. Toyotas, Fords and even a Saab Turbo have all been donated and look like they should not need more than a quick polish to bring them back to showroom condition.
Mr Osborne said the programme encouraged young people to develop skills while providing a service to the community.
“We provide a mentoring programme, we’ve got young guys from 16 through to 30 who want to learn mechanical skills, panel beating, spray painting and general maintenance,” he said.
“We’ve had awesome support from the community, people offering money to help with registrations, but also tyres, car parts, batteries engine kits and other parts.”
Madwheels has five cars ready for delivery, but Mr Osborne stressed that the project was aimed at helping disadvantaged people with specific needs.
“One of the things we do is a budget. That’s done by our counselling team so it’s done professionally,” he said. “We assess their needs, not their wants, because lots of people have wants. What we don’t want to do is give someone a car they can’t afford to run.”
With volunteers working two nights a week, Mr Osborne said they hoped to have a car ready to be given away each month, with no strings attached.
“Giving lots of cars away, that would make me happy,” he said.