What started as a winning bid on an auction item at a community fundraiser in Hall County turned into a much-needed gift to a local women's shelter this past week.
My Sister's Place, a ministry that has provided shelter for homeless women and children since 2000, received the keys to a Honda Odyssey van this past week, thanks to a generous donation from Syfan Logistics of Gainesville.
Brandee Thomas, Executive Director for My Sister's Place, said the gift will make a major difference in what the ministry can do for the women and children who live at the shelter.
"We're going to be able to use this vehicle so we can transport our residents to life skills classes and also transport our families together to the outings that we like to do once a month on the weekends so the moms can spend quality time with their children," Thomas said.
She said transportation has been a challenge in the past.
"You cobble things together," Thomas said, noting that they have used personal staff vehicles or they have relied on Gainesville Connection buses or ride-share services.
Syfan Logistics President Greg Syfan said the donation actually came about in an unconventional way. His father, company founder Jim Syfan, and his brother, company Vice-President Steve Syfan, were at a fundraiser for The Northeast Georgia History Center earlier in the year and placed a winning bid on a one-year vehicle lease offered as a prize by Milton Martin Honda of Gainesville. At that time, Jim Syfan decided he really didn't need the use of another vehicle, so that's when Greg and Steve Syfan and another local businessman put their heads together to determine how the lease could be used.
"We called Ed [Maxwell of Optum Construction] and said, 'Hey, where can you put this to use?'," Syfan said. Maxwell told them the lease would be difficult to transfer to someone - even as a gift - but if they owned a vehicle, that would be a different story.
"So we got with Butch Miller [of Milton Martin Honda] and figured out how to make that happen," Syfan said.
Syfan said Maxwell was familiar with the work of My Sister's Place and suggested the ministry would be able to make good use of a vehicle.
On Friday, Sept. 27, My Sister's Place and Milton Martin Honda signed the necessary paperwork.
General Manager Mark Boggs said the van is pre-owned, but it will be a vehicle the shelter can use for years to come.
"It is a 2011 Odyssey Touring [minivan] so the touring model has everything you could possible want on it...if we were going to give something away, we wanted it to be the best," Boggs said.
Syfan said he's happy his family's company was able to make the connection with the women at My Sister's Place.
"Really...any kind of way they can utilize it to help them is our hope," Syfan said. "We ask to be blessed all the time, and the reason we ask to be blessed is so that we can be a blessing to others. As long as we're doing that, we're fulfilling our role."