In 2000, Mike’s Auto Body, an MSO with 16 locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, donated a completely refurbished vehicle to Denise Rios and her family as part of Mike's Auto Body's Benevolence Program, currently celebrating its 19th anniversary.
The MSO will kick off this annual program on Veteran's Day and will again give more cars away during the holidays. After presenting more than 80 cars to deserving individuals, families and non-profit organizations, Mike’s Benevolence Program is likely the largest of its type in the country.
The story began 19 years ago when Mike’s presented Rios with a 1994 Honda Accord, a vehicle that she still uses as her daily driver. After all those years and so many miles, Rios and her family don’t want to part with the Accord.
“We can’t get rid of it, because it still runs well, even though we have worked it hard for many years,” she said. “All of my children have used the car and it has helped us in so many ways; it’s hard to believe how much reliable transportation can change your life.”
Rios’ life in the early 2000s before receiving the vehicle was a roller coaster. First, she had to shuttle her three children (Christine, Curtis and Ryan) off to their respective schools, and then to her classes at Diablo Valley College located in Pleasant Hill, CA, followed by another bus ride to her job as a vet assistant. "I was spending a lot of time taking buses and taxis and they didn’t have Uber back then either,” she said. “My college classes started at 8 a.m. every day and sometimes I had to literally run to get to them on time. Diablo Valley College is only ten minutes from my house, but on some days it took more than an hour for me to get there. I look back at it now and it's difficult for me to believe that I was able to do it all without a car."