As the National Auto Body Council (NABC) celebrates 25 years of supporting the industry, the non-profit organization held “NABC Day” at the Tahquitz Creek Golf Club in Palm Springs, CA, on Jan. 14.
The day consisted of a Pars for Cars golf fundraiser, presented by Hertz, a Recycled Rides® vehicle gifting and First Responder Emergency Extrication™ (F.R.E.E.) program.
“It’s was honor to kick off the 25th anniversary of the National Auto Body Council with our second annual NABC Day,” said Bill Garoutte, president and CEO of NABC. “We are grateful to all of our collision repair industry colleagues for playing in the golf fundraiser to support our key programs. We were also excited to showcase two of our premier initiatives – the NABC Recycled Rides® program and NABC F.R.E.E.™ program."
Industry professionals involved in the Recycled Rides® program collaborate to repair and donate vehicles to deserving individuals and service organizations in local communities throughout the United States. NABC has gifted more than 2,400 vehicles since the program was created in 2007.
“It’s important to showcase this powerful program to more of the industry and encourage them to host events in their own communities,” said Garoutte.
The F.R.E.E.™ program offers first responders and rescue squads information on the latest technologies and materials in late-model vehicles. Since its inception, the program has provided extrication opportunities for more than 1,600 First Responders. This was the first year NABC hosted the F.R.E.E.™ program in Palm Springs. During the event, first responders from the area had the opportunity to learn new cutting and extrication techniques on vehicles donated by USAA; the program instructors were provided by Hurst Jaws of Life.
Through both of these events, Garoutte said the organization and its volunteers were proud to give back to the Palm Springs community with the gift of reliable transportation for three deserving local families and advanced education for the first responders.
Following the golf tournament, a reception was held to honor all of its industry partners and the first Recycled Rides® presentation of 2020 took place. Three vehicles were presented to local families in need. The recipients included Maryjane Cano-Cruz, Ashly Potter-Twiford and Melissa Lozano.
Linda Sulkala, program manager for Recycled Rides®, said the vehicles aren’t given out to just anybody who needs a car.
“It’s those people who are working hard to change the lives of their families and themselves,” she said. “You’ll find that these recipients aren’t just changing their own lives; they do it because they want to change the lives of others.”
Variety – the Children’s Charity nominated the recipients, along with its partners: Lizette Moreno, respite and counseling program manager for United Cerebral Palsy, and Belen Zamora, youth education guidance counselor of the Torres Martinez Tribal TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).
“We partner with different organizations here in the valley to make sure we are selecting people who have a true need,” said Heidi Maldoon, executive director of the organization.
Maldoon said the amazing part for Variety is that they are able to help connect a family who has a specific need, whether that’s getting their child to a health care facility or therapy or going back to work or school.
Cano-Cruz received a 2013 Ford Fusion SE, which was donated by State Farm and repaired by CARSTAR Allstar Collision. She is currently attending California State University, San Bernardino, where she is earning a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential to become a special education teacher. As a respite worker who works at United Cerebral Palsy, Cano-Cruz provides supervision and care for children with special needs. She said she was grateful and excited to receive the vehicle.
“The idea of having a car is more than I could afford,” said Cano-Cruz. “It will impact my life in a significant way. I will be able to take more classes and work more and the ability to work more hours will allow me to continue to pay for my own studies.”
Potter-Twiford, the second recipient, received a 2017 Toyota Camry SE, which was donated by Hertz and repaired by Fix Auto Cathedral City.
Potter-Twiford is a mother to five-year-old Case who was diagnosed with Autism when he was three years old. With an unreliable vehicle, Potter-Twiford lost her job and Case’s special needs have required her full-time support and intervention.
She found it has been challenging to use public transportation to take her son to therapy sessions and doctors’ appointments.
When Potter-Twiford found out she was receiving a vehicle, she said she was in disbelief.
“I love my son so much and want the best for him,” said Potter-Twiford. “With this vehicle, a blessing was truly given to me and I can get my son back into his therapy and school when he is ready. I can’t begin to describe the gratitude I feel and how thankful I am for this opportunity. I’ve been struggling for a few years and this is going to open so many doors.”
The third recipient, Lozano, received a 2018 Honda Civic Sport donated by GEICO and repaired by Hamblins Body, Paint, & Frameshop.
Lozano is the mother of 13 and said her children are her life. She dropped out of school at age 14 but was determined to return and earned her General Educational Development (GED) to motivate her children to become their greatest selves.
Transportation has played a major role impacting her family to be successful and there have been times that it has affected her children’s school attendance. Lozano expressed her deep appreciation and said that having a reliable vehicle will make it easier for her to transport her children to school, activities and stay on a positive path forward.
“I want thank everyone who had a hand in making this possible,” she said. “My children and I are forever thankful and grateful for this opportunity given to us.”
For more information about NABC and its programs, visit http://nationalautobodycouncil.org/.