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.