For Brittney Schuit, a used Honda Pilot was more than just a way to and from a job. It was also a vehicle for the once-homeless mother to obtain housing and regain custody of her twin sons. 

Working Wheels, a Buncombe county non-profit, sold Schuitt the car at a low price after she was referred by the local organization Helpmate. Working Wheels collects donated vehicles in any condition, repairs them as needed, and sells them to qualified families who lack transportation.

A year later, Schuit’s life is transformed.

Schuit moved to Asheville from Evansville, Indiana, in July 2005 at the age of 17. She enjoyed working for 15 years as a phlebotomist and medical assistant, raising what she characterized as “the most amazing twin boys” after an amicable divorce with the father of the children when they were infants.

But her life took a bad turn a few years later when she remarried and found herself in an abusive marriage – both emotionally and physically speaking – before eventually divorcing a second time.

“He wasn’t a good person, to say the least,” she said. “After years of this, I was injured. He totaled both of my vehicles and left me with loan debt, absolutely no support, homeless and unable to work because of my injuries. I was told I wouldn’t walk right again, and every day I walked as far as I could. But, I was unable to work in my field.” 

With no income and no housing, she also lost partial custody of her sons.

Schuit turned to Asheville’s Helpmate organization, which offers a crisis shelter and other support services to survivors who are actively fleeing intimate partner violence. “I got a hostess job while in the shelter and walked from there to the restaurant every day and back after my shift. Downtown wasn’t easy then, and I was so grateful I could walk to work,” she said.

A Helpmate staff member suggested that Schuit contact Working Wheels.

“I was told that I would be contacted when it was my turn, and I prayed every day. And finally, the phone rang. I was getting an SUV – a white 2003 Honda Pilot,” she said. That purchase came in August 2022, and Schuit said it has proven to be a life-changing event.

“I got housing shortly after I got my vehicle from Working Wheels. My life changed, and I got a better job at a hotel downtown. I was getting better from an incident I’m lucky to have walked away from. I can’t believe how lucky I was to have Helpmate behind me, and finally, I’m free,” she said.

“I was able to get a better home in a safer area after waiting a while in the shelter for a place with a roof so I could at least get the kids back.” 

Schuit said that having a vehicle enabled her to find a better-paying job. That, in turn, allowed her to find a more stable housing environment. And, most importantly for her, it helped her in her efforts to reunite with her children.

“I knew that, with a home and vehicle, I could get split custody again. I finally had hope and felt that drive again that I lost years ago out of fear and brokenness,” she said. “This has benefited my family and helped us become a unit again. Our gratitude to the people who donate their vehicles to families who are struggling. It still makes me emotional just thinking how blessed our family truly is.”

Schuit relocated from Asheville to Elizabethton, Tennessee, in June of 2023, where she found a new job working in a barbeque restaurant while considering her next steps. “It’s a fun place to work for now and take some time to reevaluate changing career paths,” she said. “I never dreamed of leaving Asheville until I had an offer to move to Tennessee and fell in love with the area as I had with Asheville many years ago.”

Having access to dependable transportation has allowed Brittany to stay active in the lives of her two sons, who will turn 13 in December and, like many boys, participate in sports. 

“I go back and forth a lot as we chose to keep the boys in school in North Carolina and they spend summers and breaks in Tennessee,” she said.

Schuit attends as many of her sons’ practices and games as she can, and even served as an assistant coach for one of their teams.

And, as she contemplates her future career plans, Schuit also said she wants to be in a position someday to “pay it forward” and provide assistance to other people in need the way that she has been helped by Working Wheels and Helpmate.

“It takes a multitude of people to help make such an enormous difference in someone’s life like the people of Working Wheels and the donors to achieve amazing outcomes like ours. One day I hope to find my niche and help others in the way these programs helped to change our lives,” she said. 

Working Wheels provides affordable and reliable transportation options to working families in need in Western North Carolina. Car donations are used to change lives and help clients gain access to transformational opportunities including education, employment, and access to healthcare. For more information on Working Wheels, visit the website or call (828) 633-6888. Helpmate is an organization that provides safety, shelter, and support to individuals experiencing domestic violence. Through emergency shelter, counseling, and support, Helpmate empowers clients to create a violence-free life. For more information on Helpmate, visit or call the business line at 828-254-2968. The hotline is 828-254-0516.