It’s important to know that there are several different ways that a single mother could receive one or more grants for transportation. If you already have a car and are looking for help to keep your gas tank full, this is the right entry. If, however, you are looking for help repairing your car, or help paying for a car, I’ll be covering that information in another entry in the very near future. If you’re reading this and that entry isn’t up yet, please check back…it’ll be up soon.
In some areas, it’s actually harder to have a car then it is to NOT have a car. For big cities that may lack affordable parking, and with a great supply of public transit, you might just need a bus pass or money for the subway. If that’s the case, you might want to ask at the local department of family services, which you may also know as the Food Stamp or Medicaid office. They are more likely to be able to help you if you are currently receiving some type of help from their office, but that doesn’t mean you should skip applying. Even if they don’t have help available for you right now, they can probably give you the contact information for someone who administers grants for transportation.
If you have struck out at the local food stamp office, or if you need more help, the next choice should be churches. They may be able to help whether you need to put gas in the car you have, or if you just need a voucher for public transportation. In my experience, it is pretty common for a church to make public transportation vouchers available if they have an active food bank or clothing bank, or help with other community resources. They may also offer gift cards to local grocery stores that could be used to put gas in your vehicle, if there is a gas station associated with that store. In my area, both Wal-mart and HEB have gas stations. I’ve had to do this a couple of times, and so I would always recommend that you know which stores (if any) would be appropriate for your situation.
That way when I was asked where I’d prefer to use my gift card, I was able to name the gas station I’d like to use. That doesn’t mean that you’ll always have this as a possibility, but if you’re lucky, maybe your fuel problem will be JUST this easy. I always say this, but I’ll say it again…if someone tells you that they don’t have this type of help, try to find out if they know anyone who does. If they don’t, ask if they have any ideas…maybe you will get what you need if you are able to think outside of the box.
I’d also like to suggest that you make all of the necessary phone calls before you show up to be screened. An unfortunate fact of life, particularly given the economic situation in this country, is that limited resources tend to dry up fast, and most churches depend on donations from parishioners to fund their charitable outreach programs. I have literally seen people show up at churches with what seemed to be empty gas tanks, only to be turned away because there were no supplies available.
Fuel Card Resources
Although I would never advocate carrying debt, if you have and use a gas credit card, don’t forget to check to see if there are any points currently available to you.
A friend of mine, who has had a gas credit card for many years that she always paid off entirely every month, was thrilled recently when she found out that her points for the last two years (before that had expired) were sufficient to fill up her car three times. In our small town, that was over a month’s worth of gas. Make sure you know what incentive programs are available to you from grocery stores, banks, gas stations, or anywhere else that keeps track of your purchases. Fuel card resources are not technically grants for transportation, but free gas is free gas, so I wanted to remind people to check.
211 is a national registry that is designed to offer resources and referrals to needy individuals. Normally, I would advocate for people to call them first, and they are an excellent place to start. However, in a small experiment that I completed today, I was only able to get the contact information for two places within 50 miles that had listed themselves with 211. In reality, I know of at least 4 places in this county that offer grants for transportation assistance, and those are the ones I know of personally, from my own experiences or my friends. I’m sure there are others that I don’t know anything about.
I had a similar experience when we lived in Austin, so it’s my belief that many places that offer grants for transportation do so on a smaller scale, and choose not to make it widely known that they do so. Although I do not actually need this type o help right now, I would have been very upset right now if I did, and was depending solely on 211 for information.
You can contact 211 by phone in most areas, simply by calling 211. If you prefer, you can also visit their website and perform your own search, for whatever service(s) you need help with. One really nice thing about using http://www.211.org/ is that you will not waste any time being on hold and you can do the research into getting your share of grants for transportation at your convenience.
There may be other resources available, particularly if you live in an area that tends to offer more assistance. Always try to keep an eye out for additional help. Obviously, if you are eligible for a cash grant from any source, unless it says otherwise, you can always use some of that cash to fill up your tank. Otherwise, you should make sure to follow the directions that mechanics usually recommend. Things like making sure that the tires on your car are adequately filled, and that you don’t speed, can go a long way towards improving your gas mileage, which in turn will make the gas that you put into the tank last as long as possible.