A week before Christmas, employees at Bates Collision Centers spent time placing two big red bows atop two rehabbed cars wrapped in white paper to benefit two Harris County, Texas, Department of Education Head Start moms.
Employees began rehabbing the cars in the late summer. Community members gifted necessary items like six months of insurance, tires, gas cards, paint and interiors. The items provide a bridge for the families to get further down the road to independence.
This year, the two recipients are mothers Lynn Ponce from the HCDE Pugh Head Start Center and Emely Webster of the HCDE San Jacinto College North Head Start Center. Both were nominated by their Head Start center managers for their responsible parenting skills.
The Bates tradition has brightened the future of 30 families so far, said Lee and Leila Bates, owners of Bates Collision Centers.
“Even though this is our 17th year to present a car to a family, it never gets old,” said Leila. “This year is exceptionally special as we celebrate our 25th year in business and present our 30th car. We’ve seen these cars really make a difference in these families’ lives. They’ve been a hand-up, not a hand-out. It’s truly a win-win situation.”
Head Start Senior Director Venetia Peacock has seen the difference the cars make in the lives of families committed to make the world a better place for their children.
“We continue to be grateful and thankful for this partnership,” said Peacock. “These events really help you realize what the season is all about, the giving.”
One of the recipients, Ponce, dedicates her time to studying to become a nurse so that she can provide a good future for her daughter. Her part-time job can’t provide the funds for a car, so she uses her father’s vehicle. Her daughter Skyleen Flores is enrolled in the HCDE Pugh Head Start Center.
“Her eagerness to learn amazes me in every way,” said Ponce. Through Head Start, Skyleen, 4, is learning to count and read, socialization skills she will need to be successful in school.
“My daughter is my main priority, and I will continue to encourage her and support her in all her interests and commit myself to promoting my child’s education and dreams,” said Ponce.
Webster, the other recipient, is a single parent of two children Akili Vigier, 4, and Jah-Lisa Fox, a college student at San Jacinto College. Webster works at the college and also attends classes.
She is actively involved in Head Start as president of the Parent Committee. She attends parent/teacher activities and is involved in the Head Start Policy Council leadership program.
“Lack of transportation not only limits my capabilities to accept higher paying positions, but it also serves as a barrier for me and my family to have a higher quality of life,” said Webster.
Receiving a car, said Webster, will allow her to say “yes” when she is offered opportunity.
“I will elevate myself from having to depend on others to make trips to the grocery store or run simple errands,” said Webster. “I will be able to say yes to education and walk down that aisle with a degree in my hand.
“Thank you on behalf of myself and my children.”