Washburn Tech Donates Two Refurbished Vehicles to Needy Kansas Families
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Washburn Tech Donates Two Vehicles to Needy Kansas Families

Instructors and students at Washburn Tech recently donated two refurbished vehicles to two deserving Topeka, Kansas recipients via the National Auto Body Council (NABC) Recycled Rides program.

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The presentation was held at the United Way of Topeka, which selected the deserving recipients. The vehicles were provided by two private donors. In addition to the program instructor Eric Showalter and his wife Sharlene, they were joined by Dr. Farley and Dr. Mazachek from Washburn Tech and Bill Garoutte, president and CEO of the NABC.

The NABC Recycled Rides presentation was a milestone for Washburn Tech, marking the 29th and 30th vehicle donation for them. Washburn Tech leads the country in NABC Recycled Rides presentations among technical schools.

“What an honor to be here today to celebrate this tremendous achievement for Washburn Tech, Eric and Sharlene Showalter and their students,” said Garoutte. “For more than a decade, the team at Washburn Tech has shown an incredible commitment to the NABC Recycled Rides program, the opportunity it provides their students to learn in a hands-on setting and the enrichment of helping others in need.”


Natalie Rodriguez, who received a 2006 Chevrolet Equinox, is a soon to be mother of two. An assistant manager at a retail store, she has relied on others for transportation. Her work shift often ends long after the bus system no longer runs, resulting in long waits until friends can come to pick her up from work. This gift is life-changing in many ways, the most important allowing her more time at home with her soon-to-be two children instead of waiting for others to pick her up.

Amber Strait, who received a 2006 Nissan Maxima, experienced an unimaginable loss at the age of 10 and has experienced a life of ups and downs. She entered the CaRE program with the Topeka Rescue mission and began an internship with the City of Topeka. She was hired full-time by the city but was laid off after six months due to the pandemic. She went back to the mission for a month before she found another job, one that she still holds today. She will share her one-year work anniversary there next month.


“We are so proud to be able to present these two vehicles today on behalf of our Washburn Tech students and team members,” said Eric Washburn, technical instructor, Collision Repair in the Transportation Division. “We began work on these two vehicles before COVID and had to put the presentation on hold for a year until it was safe for everyone to return to work and school. That makes today even more memorable. Congratulations to our students for a terrific job on these vehicles, and congratulations to Natalie and Amber.”

Added United Way of Greater Topeka President and CEO Jessica Lehnherr, “We couldn’t have wished for a better event and a better morning to come back to the good work of NABC Recycled Rides. The driveaway is always the icing on the cake for a process that takes so many people working on the cars, collecting the applications and – the toughest work of all – choosing just two recipients. Every year, the students amaze us with their skills and their compassion. We are so grateful that Washburn Tech continues to include United Way of Greater Topeka in this uplifting effort.”


NABC Recycled Rides is a program in which businesses representing all facets of the collision repair industry team up to repair and donate vehicles to individuals and families in need of reliable transportation. Since the inception of the program in 2007, NABC members have donated more than 2,600 vehicles valued at more than $36 million.

Additional partners in the NABC Recycled Rides presentation included 1-800 Charity Cars, State Farm, Performance Tire and Wheel, O’Reilly Auto Parts and Kansas Automotive Warehouse.

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