CHICAGO — Four women were the recipients of refurbished vehicles from Recycled Rides during a presentation at NACE Automechanika 2017 in Chicago.
The recipients, all local to Chicago, were Devin Evan, Glenda Taylor, Harriett Fomond and Angela Walk.
The event kicked off with a rendition of the national anthem by Victoria Adams, a former Recycled Rides recipient.
“Sometimes we go through struggles and tragedies and some people give up because they don’t think opportunities are out there any more. I was one of those people,” said Adams. “Tragedy took the best of me, and I lost all hope. I couldn’t provide for my child or myself any longer. “
Adams found a shelter called Family Promise, which then opened the door for her and her son to the Recycled Rides program, which “helps families and single moms struggling to retain a life again by donating a restored vehicle to provide the transportation they need,” Adams said.
“These hardworking mechanics put their heart and soul into making a destroyed piece of property into something wonderful. I can’t express how much my son and I appreciate these wonderful organizations and the people who work for them to make it happen,” Adams said. “These programs have made a positive and influential difference in my life, restoring my confidence, independence, freedom and self esteem. They gave me and my child a better opportunity to grow.”
The presentation was led by the National Auto Body Association. “Without transportation you do not have the ability and the freedom to maintain life the way others do,” said Chuck Sulkala, NABC executive director. “The industry has come together in Recycled Rides. And we are doing an awesome job.”
“What happens here changes the world. And what we do and why we do it changes and saves lives,” said Dominic Brusco, NABC chairman.
Evan, an Army veteran who served from 2006 until her honorable discharge in 2012, is a mom of two toddler boys. While trying to complete college, she became homeless. She now works as a food nutritionist at a local hospital in Chicago. “Everybody goes through difficult times. And you have to keep your head up and keep moving,” said Evan, who received a 2011 Buick Lacrosse.
Walk is a former jet engine mechanic for the US Military. After her honorable discharge in 1993, she earned her associate’s degree in accounting. She moved to Chicago in 2016 to care for her ill mother. Earlier this year, she lost her job and, after a car accident, lost her car. She is now working at Hines VA Hospital.
“I can’t express how grateful I am. No longer will I have to ride the bus — watch out Chicago! I am exceptionally blessed and fortunate; thank you,” said Walk, who received a 2012 Chevy Sonic.
Taylor is a grandmother who cares for her grandson while her daughter works long hours. The vehicle will allow Taylor to drive her grandson back and forth to school and her job, without an hours-long commute. “It will make my life and the lives of my grandchild and daughter much, much better. This will help us to have more of a normal life. I am so grateful, and very appreciative of everyone who was able to make this possible,” said Taylor, who received a 2016 Ford Fusion.
Fomond is also a mother and grandmother. She would take public transportation and walk to drop her grandchildren off at different schools and then to her job, also resulting in an hours-long commute daily.
“We were walking here, there, everywhere and taking buses. With this car to get around, it will be so much easier now. I want to thank everyone,” Fomond said. She received a 2016 Nissan Altima.
“Sometimes we don’t need a handout; we need a hand up. And that is what we provide,” said Linda Sulkala with Recycled Rides.