Volunteer of the Month: Daria Rutkowski-Nitsch

By Miranda Jonswold, United Way of Northwest Vermont volunteer

When Daria Rutkowski-Nitsch read an article about Good News Garage, not only did she believe it was a wonderful program available in Vermont, but it also sparked her decision to be a part of the greater cause.

Good News Garage was established in Burlington, Vt. in 1996 and was one of the first nonprofit social enterprise car donation programs in the U.S. Good News Garage provides affordable and reliable transportation to low-income individuals and families. Thanks to the kindness of others donating their vehicles, Good News Garage has provided over 5,000 families in New England with donated vehicles, providing them access with a road toward financial independence and social stability, according to Good News Garage’s website.

Positively changing lives of others is a gift in itself, but donors also receive additional benefits, such as free towing and a tax deduction.

Good News Garage is a member of the Ascentria Care Alliance, one of the largest human service organizations in New England. Good News Garage’s support network of partner garages, local mechanics and towing companies also greatly help see the mission through.

“I thought it was a great program, especially in Vermont where you need a car,” Rutkowski-Nitsch said. “It’s hard in Vermont [to be without a car], and I live in Burlington, so I can’t imagine for people who don’t live in town. Especially if you have children.”

She approached Good News Garage and asked if she could be of assistance. She landed the role as a volunteer administrative assistant.

“They always have a need for people to review their files,” she said. “I’m a detailed person, so that was perfect for me.”

For nearly three years, Rutkowski-Nitsch has been volunteering once or twice a week for a few hours each day. She reviews donor files for accuracy and completion, among other administrative duties. She enjoys the work she does as well as the Good News Garage crew, all of whom are friendly and make for a comfortable environment.

Tom Kupfer, marketing specialist at Good News Garage, describes Rutkowski- Nitsch as “an amazing volunteer and person, and we believe she deserves to be recognized for her commitment to uplifting the community.”

“It’s so amazing that they donate their cars, and Good News Garage gets them ready, matches them up, and gives them out,” she said of the donors. “It’s life-changing when you have a car.”

Rutkowski-Nitsch mentions this nonprofit “all the time,” to everyone and encourages others to spread the Good News.

“Keep it in the back of your mind if you ever hear of anyone that needs help,” she said. “Donating, too, if anybody has a car to donate!”’

When she’s not at Good News Garage, Rutkowski-Nitsch enjoys pet-sitting, gardening, and dabbling in various forms of arts and crafts.

Alison DeFisher