From Koozies to Cars

Dawn celebrates her new car!

Dawn celebrates her new car!

By: Jill McMahon, CEF Advocate and Finance Specialist Intern

It was an exciting Monday morning at CEF when we found out that one of our members Dawn was going to get a car! Thanks to the man behind the sign (Jim Kitchen) Dawn received a Chevy Malibu to call her own. Dawn is the second recipient of a campaign led by Prof. Jim Kitchen’s class at the UNC Business School. In May, Prof. Kitchen’s class presented a car to our member Loretha, who needed reliable transportation for her job as a CNA. Through Kitchen’s Trade-for-Help program, she was able to receive a Lincoln Town Car.

As we rolled up to Carol Woods where Dawn worked and anxiously waited to surprise her, Mr. Kitchen explained how he was able to get the cars for CEF members. In addition to being an entrepreneur and an active community member, Jim is also a professor in the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. His class partook in their own Trade-Up Project, an idea based around bartering objects for other objects of increasingly greater value. Each student began with a koozie, with a mission to keep trading “up” to gain something more substantial. Eventually (and unbelievably), 76 koozies turned into 2 cars.

This will have a huge impact on Dawn’s daily life, as she will now be able to consistently get to work on time and to her medical appointments. As a new advocate to CEF, seeing Dawn receive this car was something really special. As we all gathered to share that moment with Dawn, I realized how important community relationships are and how these different relationships and resources can combine into something powerful. Huge thanks to Jim Kitchen and his students for making that moment possible!


If you’d like to read more about Dawn, Loretha, and Jim’s stories, see the following links:

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CEF: Community Empowerment Fund

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