April 19, 2024

The fine art of altruism


A humble 1997 Honda Civic was the portal into an artistic and creative universe for Jeannette’s late mother, Eva Nissen. The car would carry Eva and her art supplies far and wide, as she sought the perfect landscapes to paint. Today, the car has gone on to a new home — but not before helping kids at risk of homelessness first.

“My mum loved her Honda Civic! With its power steering and electric windows, it was a big upgrade from her previous car. To make it even more special, she added a touch of luxury by buying custom-made sheepskin seat covers!” Jeannette said.

Those sheepskin seat covers would have come in handy when Eva set off on her regular adventures out into the brisk Victorian countryside. “She was an artist and a member of the Victorian Artists Society. So, as well as being used for the usual things — like shopping, errands, and travel to her weekly art classes — the Civic was also used for art excursions further afield,” said Jeannette.

From Kangaroo Ground in Warrandyte, to the famed artists’ colony of Montsalvat in Eltham, Eva would regularly set off in the Civic for days spent plein-air painting and soaking up artistic inspiration. On those journeys, Eva would always pack an easel, masonite board, paint box, stool and sun hat, along with her oil paints and, occasionally, watercolours. “Despite all this gear, the car was always spotless — with no signs of paint splatters,” Jeannette said.

Once Eva reached an age when she was no longer able to drive, she passed the car on to Jeannette and her family. For a time, it was a handy addition to the household for quick errands and the like. “Yet, recently, we realised we no longer had a need for an extra car. It simply wasn’t getting enough use to justify keeping it. This was when we decided to donate it to a worthy cause,” Jeannette said.

“After some research online, I came across Kids Under Cover. The work they were doing with homeless young people resonated with me. I am very aware of what a major issue youth homelessness is, and believe it is so important for kids to have a ‘nest’ where they feel safe and secure. Only then can they thrive and reach their full potential.”

Jeannette found the donation process to be very straightforward and professional. Under the hammer, the Civic sold for $2,500 — with 100% of the proceeds going towards helping young people stay connected to their families, education and community, and stop them from experiencing homelessness.

In the past, Jeanette has donated a piano to a special needs school, and she continues to support other charities. But the Civic is the largest and most rewarding donation she has made. “I know mum would have been delighted that her car benefited others,” she said. And she hopes that the new owners experience as much joy as her mum did in the trusty Civic.


Image:One of artist Eva Nissen pieces, of the barn at Monstalvat that she regularly visited in the Civic.