While waiting for an appointment with Chariots 4 Hope Oct. 23, Rebecca Deitering was making the most of a few extra minutes by writing a college paper in her family’s truck.
She was told to meet at ReRuns, a nonprofit consignment store in La Vista. As Deitering walked toward the door, the garage opened, revealing a blue PT Cruiser adorned with a big red bow, ready for her to drive.
“I’m really surprised,” Deitering said. “I wasn’t expecting that at all.”
Deitering had been working with Chariots 4 Hope, a faith-based nonprofit, to obtain a vehicle, but she didn’t know that was the day she’d receive it.
Her family’s truck had broken down multiple times. While she’d been making payments, Deitering said she knew it was time to find a car of her own that she feels safe driving to get from home to work and school.
Her new car breaking down shouldn’t be a concern, as it only has about 24,000 miles on it. Every car donated to Chariots 4 Hope is inspected and brought up to safety standards.
ReRuns donated the vehicle after acquiring it from an anonymous donor, ReRuns founder Anna Sortino said. She said ReRuns believes in spreading joy whenever possible to make the world a better place.
“To us, we’re helping spread goodwill throughout the world, because our belief is the more joy in the world, the less hate,” Sortino said.
According to its website, ReRuns is the nation’s largest nonprofit consignment sale. All profits are donated to charities ReRuns volunteers are passionate about, Sortino said.
ReRuns wanted to ensure the car would go to someone who truly deserved it, Sortino said. They heard about Chariots 4 Hope through a ReRuns volunteer who had donated a car and had a good experience. After careful consideration, she said they chose the organization because of the thorough process it goes through with potential recipients.
Before giving away a donated vehicle, Chariots 4 Hope ensures recipients have insurance and a driver’s license, among other qualifications.
Recipients also need to be able to afford the vehicle’s expenses long-term. Candidates must have a job or job offer, provide paystubs and create a budget for ongoing car care.
Vehicles are not given away for free, as recipients have to pay $500. Recipients who complete the afterCARe program will have half of their payment put into an emergency fund, as well as receive a six-month or 6,000-mile warranty. The program, consisting of seven classes, teaches car maintenance and planning.
Chariots 4 Hope provides vehicles to low-income community members who have proven to be turning their life around. Reliable transportation is key to maintaining a steady job, Chariots 4 Hope co-founder Jason Hurt said.
“Transportation is one of the largest barriers in our city to employment,” Hurt said. “To be able to have a car to have access to get to these jobs like we have access to really helps them move out of poverty.”
For consideration, individuals must first be referred by one of the partnering organizations listed on Chariots 4 Hope’s website.
Bethlehem House referred Deitering after she came to the organization for help with her third pregnancy. Bethlehem House helps pregnant women in crisis like Deitering, who had been addicted to meth, as well as drinking and smoking cigarettes, since she was 14.
Growing up, she was in and out of treatment centers and group homes. She continued battling addiction into adulthood.
While addiction starts as a choice, Deitering said it’s a disease that changes the chemical makeup of a person’s brain. She said the relentless need to get high every day overcame her and became the focus of her life.
Drugs quickly become a habit she said she didn’t want but couldn’t break.
“You kind of wake up one day, and you hate your life and you feel hopeless,” Deitering said. “You don’t know what happened or how you got there.”
Deitering was unable to overcome her addiction during her first two pregnancies. Her mom took over caring for her daughters because she wasn’t ready, she said, to get clean.
Her turning point came when she had no choice but to reflect on the state of her life, spending six months in prison. Deitering said she finally realized she couldn’t continue living that way. After being released, she got a full-time job and continued recovery treatment.
Still, Deitering’s caseworker Tammi Hess said Deitering was in denial about her addiction when she first came to Bethlehem House. Throughout Hess’s time working with Deitering, she watched her realize just how much her drug use was impacting her life.
“I remember that exact day when that light bulb came on,” Hess said. “For her to reach out to say, ‘I need help,’ was huge.”
Since then, Deitering has taken all the right steps to continue growing as a person and bettering her life, Hess said.
“She just kept persevering,” Hess said. “She has an idea of what she wants, and she just goes for it.”
Now Deitering is working, taking care of her son and attending Metropolitan Community College for business management classes. She visits her two daughters, still in her mother’s care, everyday. To continue her recovery journey, Deitering is working with a sponsor and attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings three times per week.
She’s stayed sober since February 2018.
Deitering said she’s so grateful to Chariots 4 Hope, ReRuns and Bethlehem House for helping her push through hard times.