Vandals cause $1K in damage to non-profit van helping homeless families

Non-profit struggling after vandals damage van
Posted at 3:53 PM, Oct 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-28 17:59:24-04

Vandals in West Palm Beach targeted a van and caused $1,000 worth of damage.

And it's not just any van, but a vehicle volunteers use to help struggling families.

Family Promise helps homeless families get back on their feet and back to work. They use their van to do just that. 

"Most of the families that come in rely on this vehicle to get them where they need to go," said Keelan O'Carroll, an administrative coordinator.

The non-profit works seven days a week helping homeless families live normal lives.

"We partner with local churches and synagogues to house the families. During the day time they go to school or work, or work with us helping them fill out resumes or job applications," O'Carroll said.

They use the van, which seats up to 15 people, to take the kids to school, or mom and dad to job interviews, doctor's appointments, work, and even to pick up prescriptions.

But their work almost came to a halt on Oct. 18.

"Last Tuesday, our driver arrives and couldn't get it started. He (tried) to jump it and noticed the battery was gone," said O' Carroll.

The night before, thieves broke into the van. Cords were ripped on the front dash as if someone tried to steal it.

But the suspects didn't just break into the van, they also tried to steal the gas. In the process, they punctured the gas tank and caused a huge mess.

"I think they were just trying to get something they could get quick cash for," said O'Carroll.

The van was in the shop for several days.

"Our van driver was able to graciously offer his personal vehicle to transport these people. And then we borrowed a van," said O'Carroll.

It cost the non-profit about $1,000 for a replacement gas tank and battery. Family Promise is funded entirely on private donations and grants.

"We're a small organization. We raise all of our own funds. And this is definitely not in our budget," said O'Carroll.

Family Promise has the van back but not enough money to continue its work, which includes preparing meals, tutoring kids, and helping parents find work.
If you can help the group, you can call their number at 561-318-8864 or email them. 

West Palm Beach police are still investigating the vandalism, but were unable to find fingerprints or surveillance footage.