1994: Visionary social activist and Lutheran church member, Hal Colston was working at a Vermont agency when one of his clients, a single mom, came to him in tears. She had just purchased a car, but the car broke down repeatedly, and the seller refused to refund her money. Hal came up with an idea for a “community garage” – a place where people struggling to get out of poverty could receive a car that was affordable, safe and reliable.
1995: Pastor Frederick “Rick” Neu, Bill Valliere and Reverend Doug Ward logged hundreds of hours with Hal to organize logistics, recruit volunteers, raise money and start collecting car donations.
1996: Good News Garage officially opened its doors in Burlington with financial support from Lutheran Social Services (now Ascentria Care Alliance) and a grant from Wheat Ridge Ministries. Chittenden County Transportation Authority loaned Good News Garage space on King Street in Burlington for a small office and garage.
1997: With the help of Burlington Community Land Trust (now Champlain Housing Trust) Good News Garage launched a capital campaign to raise money to renovate the former Vermont Transit bus barn.
1998-1999: Good News Garage received special recognition from the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for entrepreneurism in social service programming and recognition from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in its Best Practice reports.
2000: Good News Garage launched a transitional transportation service in Vermont, Ready To Go, which provides rides for clients to access essential life activities including jobs, training and childcare. Good News Garage was recognized as a HUD “Best of the Best” nonprofit agency.
2002: Good News Garage opened an office in Manchester, New Hampshire, with support from Rockingham Community Action and other local businesses and community organizations.
2003: Good News Garage moved to its current Burlington location in the Old North End.
2006: Good News Garage turned 10 years old! More than 2,500 individuals and families throughout New England have received cars from Good News Garage.
2007: A generous donor gave Good News Garage a 1979 MGB and Hemmings Motor News Sports and Exotic Car staff began restoring it.
2008: Hal Colston, Good News Garage’s visionary founder, was featured in People Magazine, Reader’s Digest and on “The Today Show.”
2009: Because of his social activism, Hal Colston appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” As a result of the show, Rick Hendrick (of Hendrick Motorsports) donated 10 2008 Chevy Impalas and $10,000 to GNG which were awarded to deserving families from across New England.
2010: A generous and longtime supporter donated her 1936 Chevy Truck to Good News Garage. The bright yellow street rod soon became an official representative at events across New England.
2011: In Vermont Good News Garage opened its garage to the public to offer quality car repairs, maintenance services, inspections and more. Revenue from this social enterprise supports the organization’s mission and its programs.
2012: A NH family donated a 1976 Triumph Spitfire convertible which was raffled as a fundraiser for the program.
2013: Good News Garage New Hampshire moved and expanded its offices to 340 Granite Street in Manchester, New Hampshire.
2014: Lutheran Social Services of New England became Ascentria Care Alliance. In honor of our Christian heritage, the name is a blend of “ascension” and “trinity” meaning “rising together.” New Hampshire partner garage, Tires Too, and owner Russ Hilliard repaired a Good News Garage car free-of-charge – a generous donation of nearly $4,500. Hemmings Motor News completed the donated MGB. The fully-restored car will be auctioned at Owls Head Transportation Museum on August 20, 2016.
2015: Long-time Good News Garage volunteer, Ed Stowe, received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the President of the United States in recognition of his outstanding volunteer efforts. Ascension Lutheran Church made their 20th consecutive financial contribution to Good News Garage.
2016: Good News Garage celebrates its 20th birthday, relaunches the JumpStart program, establishes the Hal Colston JumpStart Car of Empowerment, and auctions the Hemmings-restored MGB at Owls Head.
2018: Hal Colston, founder of Good News Garage, and Angela Bovill, president and CEO of Ascentria Care Alliance, present our 5,000th vehicle to a family in need since 1996.
What’s next for Good News Garage?
Good News Garage continues to serve low-income New England families and has provided over 5,000 cars to date. We are committed to working with our community and our parent organization to expand our services to more families.
Stay in touch with us through Facebook and Twitter or sign-up for our e-newsletter to keep up with the latest Good News Garage news! You can also help shape our future by donating your car, money, or time. Thank you for your ongoing support!