Windsor-Essex residents drive away with new lease on life

Rebuilding Wheels Rebuilding Lives donates vehicles to three local families

LaSalle Post Reporter

Rebuilding Wheels Rebuilding Lives (RWRL), a community partnership that supports local families with a reliable vehicle, has handed over the keys to three donated cars this week, while the student mechanics who helped refurbish them celebrate their own accomplishments.

Since 2014, RWRL has engaged 440 students and donated 15 vehicles to deserving families in Windsor and Essex County. This week, families from Leamington and Windsor got the thrill of getting behind the wheel of their new rides.


“We’re new to Canada,” says Paulina Martinez Morales, a Leamington resident. “This vehicle will help me obtain a diploma from St. Clair College, as well as provide transportation to English classes for my husband and extra-curricular activities for my three children.”

Melissa Luce, a Windsorite, shares that receiving the vehicle helps to alleviate her time burden and stress of using public transportation to attend work, school, and medical appointments.

“This is especially important to me since members of my family live with different disabilities, including epilepsy and diabetes.” she said.


“I am a single mother of three, as well as a grandmother of two,” said Alicia Collier of East Windsor. “After experiencing layoffs during the pandemic, I completed a diploma at St. Clair College. This vehicle will support me as I start a new career.”

Access to transportation has been a barrier for some local families, and owning a reliable vehicle can be a game changer for families living in low income. Dependable transportation can help people secure stable employment, access post-secondary education, and help parents supports themselves and their families.


According to the website, challenges with frequency and reliability of public transit are factors that affect people’s ability to participate in the economy – 50 per cent of public transit users, who responded to the advocacy group’s survey, use public transit to get to work, and 60 per cent use it to complete errands.

“The program provides a simple solution that ensures families have equitable access to economic opportunities in our region,” says Lorraine Goddard, CEO at United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County.

Student mechanics benefit from the opportunity to work on a ‘real life’ project that also supports the community. Vehicle repairs are made with the guidance of shop teachers at E.J. Lajeunesse and Leamington District Secondary School, and with the generous support of local auto dealerships and auto parts suppliers. 

Watch a video about students feel about their involvement at


Recipients are selected by United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County through an application process that balances financial and family needs with the ability to afford the ongoing cost of car ownership.

If members of the public are interested in donating a vehicle to the Rebuilding Wheels Rebuilding Lives Program, please contact United Way at 519-259-6169. A charitable tax receipt can be provided.




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