Nonprofit near torched CVS gets van to help its clients

The Baltimore Sun
Donated van will help nonprofit near torched CVS

From the front window of the nonprofit Penn North's Pennsylvania Avenue office, the CVS Pharmacy that rioters torched and looted in April is visible.

It's at that CVS that clients of the organization, which offers recovery services to about 250 city residents struggling with addiction, homelessness and poverty, often picked up their much-needed medication, said Tyrell Moyd, the director of the community resource center.

With the closest open CVS about a mile away and most clients without cars of their own, Penn North administrators started giving rides to the people in their personal vehicles — some with no more than two seats.

That will no longer be necessary after General Motors Baltimore Operations and Koons Chevrolet donated a 15-passenger van to the organization Wednesday, which will help Penn North transport clients to pharmacies, job fairs, doctor appointments and more.

"We are overwhelmed and so grateful to have this as a resource," Moyd said. "It really takes a load off of us."

Rick Coulson, the general manager of Koons Chevy, said the two companies were looking for a way to give back after the unrest.

"We were trying to think of something we could do to ease the pain of that week and figure out how we could help," Coulson said. "It seemed like the perfect timing: A van was available, so we jumped on it and said, 'Let's go.'"

Coulson said they picked an organization that seemed to need it most.

"It was important for them to have a van," he said. "People now can go where they need to go to do the things they need to do to get well."

The van was filled with donations from dealership employees — a computer, a microwave, toiletries and bags filled with suits and other clothing for job interviews.

"As a plant, our people are always looking for a way to give back," said William Tiger, the plant manager of General Motors Baltimore Operations. "Our contribution isn't huge, but when you put all the pieces together, we can make a big impact."

Melanie Goins, a client of Penn North who attended the "key handoff" at the Koons Chevy, said she hopes the donation of the van — which has a retail value of about $32,000 — prompts other companies to give to the community after the riots.

"This van is definitely going to be a big help, another resource," said Goins, a 29-year-old Washington resident. "There should be more events like this. It gives people in the program a shot of hope."

trichman@baltsun.com

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