After losing their cars during Hurricane Harvey and enduring daily transportation challenges, Harris County Department of Education Head Start employee Bahiyyah Rashed and parent Vanessa Zuniga are receiving a special gift from Bates Collision Centers: the gift of transportation.
Head Start and Houston-area MSO Bates Collision Centers are giving away vehicles to two moms who will be recognized with the Responsible Parenting Award. Owners Lee and Leila Bates have made this annual giveaway a priority because they recognize the sacrifices parents often make in order to provide for their children.
“We’re fueling brighter futures,” said Lee Bates, president of Bates Collision Centers. “Responsible parenting is so important and it’s a big job in every family. But it becomes even harder when all the pieces aren’t in place, like transportation.”
This is the 19th year that the Harris County Department of Education Head Start and Bates Collision Centers have partnered in the annual giveaway. The donations bring their total to 34 vehicles.
Rashed and Zuniga were nominated by Head Start Center managers. Bates employees donate time to work on the cars and help fill them with gifts, and other community members and businesses donate gas, insurance and materials needed to rehab the cars.
Leila Bates, vice president of Bates Collision Centers, said she and her husband are proud of their employees who continue to supply time and resources to families they have yet to meet.
Harris County Department of Education Head Start Senior Director Venetia Peacock believes the partnership is particularly important this year as parents face transportation issues in the wake of Harvey.
“We continue to be thankful for our partnership with Bates Collision Centers,” said Peacock. “These cars make a difference in the lives of families who are already committed to making the world a better place for their children.”
Bahiyyah Rashed is a valued teacher at Tidwell Head Start, a single mother of two sons – Deon, 10, and Daveon, 9 – and guardian to niece Kelsi, 7. Since losing her vehicle during Hurricane Harvey, Rashed has been sharing a vehicle with her mother. While the car has been a blessing, it has occasional mechanical issues and can be unreliable while trying to attend school, work and many extracurricular activities.
Vanessa Zuniga is the single parent of Nathan, 4, and employed full-time. Zuniga lost her vehicle during Hurricane Harvey and shares rides with friends and family. She begins her day early and waits for extended times to be picked up from work. She also relies on family members for Nathan’s school rides.