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Kindness in motion: How an anonymous donor changed a North Idaho family's life

A Dodge Durango was a gift to the struggling young family from a local donor.
Credit: Coeur d'Alene Press

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Everything seemed to be going wrong for Josh France and Brooke Carroll, reports our partners from the Coeur d'Alene Press.

“It was one thing after another," France, 40, said Thursday evening.

“We didn’t have a place to live, our car breaks down," Carroll, 30, said. "We just felt like we were not going anywhere."

Together for nearly 13 years, the couple moved to North Idaho from Oregon with their young daughter, Abigail, about a year ago, and soon discovered they had another baby on the way.

"We came here with the promise of work and a place to stay," France said.

They lived with and worked for friends in Blanchard.

"They had six kids and there wasn’t very much room, so we needed to get out," Carroll said.

When France's father died just a couple weeks into their arrival to North Idaho, they found themselves putting more miles on their already high-mileage Toyota Matrix as they went between Oregon and Idaho to be with family.

"The windshield wipers were stuck on," France said. "You had to balance the windshield wiper knob between on and off. It was a wreck.”

Then their friends' shop went out of business.

"We were on the ropes staying in a hotel," France said. "We ran out of money and ended up in our car. We called Family Promise and the next day they called back and said, ‘Come on in.’”

Family Promise of North Idaho is a Coeur d'Alene nonprofit that serves families faced with homelessness by connecting them with churches, community partners and others who can help those families restore stability in their lives.

“They’re awesome,” Carroll said.

The family welcomed baby David into the world about three months ago, within their first week of becoming a Family Promise family. France continued to work, but when their car died as they pulled into a local church where they were staying, it made a tough situation even more difficult.

“We parked and Brooke’s like, ‘Do you notice the stuff leaking out of the car?’” France said. “I go to look and there’s just a steady stream of fluid, and we’re like, ‘Oh no.'"

They left the car in the church parking lot. People in local church communities heard the family's story.

“I was on my way out to catch a cab and one of the guys asked, ‘Is there anything we can do for you?’" France said. "I was like, ‘Uh, pray?’”

That prayer was answered.

A generous donor, who asked to remain anonymous, contacted the family to help pay for their car to be repaired. That was out of the question when they took it into the shop and found it could cost up to $12,000.

“We’re like, ‘Well, that’s a new car,’” France said.

The donor was not deterred. The individual directed the family to Union Gospel Mission Motors in Spokane and told them to peruse the inventory.

"We went in and they let me pick one out," France said. “I’m still shocked. I don’t even know the words for it, really."

On Oct. 21, the donor gifted the family a reliable, used 2004 Dodge Durango, a much more fitting vehicle for a growing family of four.

"We were surprised, and grateful,” Carroll said. “There are no words to explain.”

It was a huge lift for their morale.

"It really boosted our spirits," Carroll said.

“To know somebody’s out there that cares,” France added.

“That we’re in people’s prayers,” Carroll said.

France said where they came from, "people wouldn't even spit at you."

"They don’t acknowledge other people. You could wreck on your bike or fall down and people walk by and don’t acknowledge you," he said. "Here, you fall off your bike, people pick you up.”

Abigail sweetly smiled and gave two thumbs up when she was asked about the new ride.

"It’s definitely a godsend," France said. "I prayed for help and God sent us help in the form of our donor."

The family is working to find permanent housing, which will be much easier with a four-wheel drive that can get them around this winter.

They also keep in touch with the donor, who calls to check on them every week.

“We have faith,” France said. "We’re doing everything that’s put in front of us. We’re tackling the obstacles to get back on our own two feet so we can just live and do our thing.”

Family Promise Executive Director Cindy Wood said the nonprofit is grateful for this act of kindness.

"We continue to experience life in this overwhelming place of gratitude to see how the community comes together once again in unexpected ways to lift people up,” she said. "We're so thankful."

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our partners, click here.

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