Two Conway residents who depended on others for transportation now have their own vehicles thanks to Project 3:27, a local nonprofit.
Project 3:27 formed in 2013 following an impromptu service project Jeremy and Shanna Smith spearheaded in 2012.
When taking their son to a therapy center to receive treatment for his spina bifida condition, the couple noticed there was a woman with three children, who needed help getting to and from the therapy center. Two of the woman's children were handicapped. One of these two was in a wheelchair.
Their family worked together with local churches and friends to raise funds to buy and repair a van to gift the struggling mother.
"We filled that van with money, cards and gifts," Laveta "Geneva" Bowlin said, noting that the group put this project together soon before Christmas.
Since then, the family banded together with other friends to create the nonprofit it is today and as of Saturday afternoon, Project 3:27 has donated 42 vehicles to individuals in need. Thirteen of these vehicles have been gifted to Renewal Ranch.
Regarding the first vehicle that inspired creating the nonprofit, Bowlin said the group kept the project a secret.
"We didn't tell anyone," she said. "We just did it."
Dena Hall, the group's secretary, said this initiative helps give its recipients gain their independence back.
"We're enabling them to have a life again," she said, adding that recipients no longer have to rely on others for transportation to and from work.
One of Saturday's recipients, Yasmine Pace, said the gift was "life changing."
Since moving to Conway from Pine Bluff, the single mother of one who works two jobs to support her family, Pace has relied on others to get her to and from point A and point B.
"I came here by faith," she said of moving to Conway. "I knew God would bring something good my way."
Pace said she was thankful for the efforts of Project 3:27. Pace received a silver 2007 Honda Civic.
Another local resident, Jackie Bufford, received a black 2006 Dodge Stratus.
"I would be jumping up and down if I could," Bufford, who will undergo knee surgery Monday, said as Project 3:27 handed her a set of keys Saturday afternoon.
Bufford has been without a vehicle for several years following a trip to the hospital. Once she was unable to work, Project 3:27 members said the Conway woman was unable to keep her vehicle.
"It's wonderful," she said as Bowlin handed over the title to the Stratus.
To learn more about Project 3:27's services, visit www.project327.com.
Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.