SafeHouse wins Toyota Sienna

Published 12:47 pm Tuesday, July 26, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Toyota USA company on July 26 announced the Pelham-based SafeHouse of Shelby County was one of 100 non-profit organizations across the country to win a vehicle through the company’s 100 Cars for Good competition.

Through the competition, 5,000 non-profit organizations submitted applications to Toyota in early May. The list was then narrowed to 1,000 organizations, and then the top 500.

Each day since May 9, Toyota has selected five organizations at random and featured them on the day’s online ballot. Voters then cast their ballots for the day’s featured organizations, and the organization with the most votes at the end of the day won their choice of a Toyota vehicle.

SafeHouse was featured on the July 22 ballot, and earned more votes than the other four competing organizations, Kathy Wells, the organization’s executive director.

“We are so excited right now,” Wells said shortly after learning SafeHouse won the July 22 competition.

As a result of winning the competition, SafeHouse soon will have a new Toyota Sienna van, which Wells said is much needed.

SafeHouse provides shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and provides many services for those affected by the crimes. SafeHouse employees frequently transport children staying at the shelter to school, and transport adults to doctors appointments, courthouses and other destinations.

“The van is really what we need. The only good van we have right now is a van that Honda donated us earlier this year,” Wells said. “Sometimes, we have 27 people staying in the shelter at one time, so one van just isn’t enough.”

Of the 500 organizations participating in the program, only nine were from Alabama. So far, SafeHouse is the only Alabama organization to win.

“We are so excited and so thankful to everyone who supported us,” Wells said. “We had votes from all over the country, and even had some votes from the Netherlands.”