Zara’s Collision Center announced that Mahogony Wilson, a single mother trying to coordinate a work schedule and daycare without a vehicle, was presented a refurbished vehicle through Zara’s Benevolence Program.
Wilson, a front desk clerk at Courtyard by Marriott, and her three-year-old daughter Aniya were presented with a totally refurbished 1999 Olds Alero. The vehicle was unwrapped during a luncheon ceremony of 150 attendees at Zara’s as part of its benevolence program.
“I returned to Springfield [Ill.] this past year from Ohio to give my daughter a better life,” said Wilson. “A vehicle means I can pick up Aniya from daycare without relying on cabs … and giving us more money because we won’t be paying for cab rides. It means I won’t need to depend on public transportation when I get off work at 11 at night. Next year, I plan to start my own business and return to school. Having a vehicle means that can really happen now. We’re so excited!”
Zara’s was originally alerted to Wilson’s need for a vehicle by the staff of Contact Ministries who were impressed by her self-direction, work ethic, and devotion to being a role model and building a stable environment for her daughter.
“The determination to make a better life for herself and her daughter was already part of who Mahogony is, ” said Julie Zara, co-owner of Zara’s Collision Center. “What’s truly exciting for us at Zara’s is that something so taken for granted as a vehicle by most of us is such a tremendous springboard for the future dreams of Mahogony.”
This is the 17th year that Zara’s has purchased at least one vehicle, restored it to pristine condition and then donated it to an individual in need. Over the course of those years, Zara’s has given away nearly 30 vehicles. A comprehensive maintenance check is done to verify the vehicle’s safety and reliability.
Typically, a lot of time is spent searching for the vehicles, then purchasing them from the owners or salvage yards. Many times, vehicles are provided by people in the community who have heard about Zara’s benevolence program. In the case of the Olds Alero refurbished for Wilson, it was damaged in an accident and Zara’s purchased the vehicle from the owner with the intent to refurbish it.
Zara’s vendors, employees, friends, family and insurance agents also actively support the program. Nearly 70 donors contributed to the program this year for items such as vehicle repair, paint material, mechanical work, gift cards and monetary gifts exceeding $7,600.
“Many of our team here at Zara’s have contributed everything from time and talents to purchasing toys and gifts for the family,” said Zara.
Zara’s Collision Center is one of the original AkzoNobel Acoat Selected shops refurbishing and then giving away vehicles to deserving individuals. That founding program has inspired other national organizations to start similar programs, collectively donating nearly 200 vehicles this year.
“The focus of the program is individuals who are working to help themselves,” said Zara. “To be eligible, a person must have a valid driver’s license, a good driving record and a verified need for a vehicle.”