Jamie Smith with her refurbished 2009 Chevy Equinox.Alana Yates, new owner of a 2007 Hyundai Entourage.

Single Mothers Receive Vehicles from Zara’s Collision Center

SPRINGFIELD — Jamie Smith, a single mother of two, and Alana Yates, a single mother of three, received vehicles today thanks to Zara’s Collision Center’s Benevolence Program.

    Smith, a Contact Ministries resident and Walmart employee, with her daughter Erica, 12, and son Ethan, 9, were presented a totally refurbished 2009 Chevy Equinox.

    Yates, also a Contact Ministries resident and employed by Help at Home, along with Andrew, 15, and daughters Amelah, 7, and Aday’ah, 5, became owners of a 2007 Hyundai Entourage. The vehicles were unwrapped during a luncheon ceremony of 150 attendees at Zara’s Collision Center as part of their Benevolence Program.

    “It’s very stressful getting to and from work without a vehicle,” said Smith. “I always worry about my kids missing the bus and getting to school without a car. I hate depending on other people for rides. I worry a lot about losing my job because I don’t have a car and have to be at the mercy of others.”

    “My goal is to become an RN of surgery and own my own business,” says Yates. “I’m attending Midwest Technical Institute four nights a week to become a certified medical assistant. Friends and babysitters give me rides to school and back to the shelter. I was terrified that would give out and I wouldn’t be able to continue my program. Having my own dependable vehicle will make all the difference in my life and my children’s — more hours at work, get to school earlier, more freedom with my children.”    

    To be eligible for a vehicle as part of the Benevolence Program, a person must be associated with a not-for-profit agency or church, have a valid driver’s license, a good driving record, and a verified need for a vehicle.

    “What speaks to us for both of these women is their desire to achieve more in life by focusing on the right things — faith, family, work, and perseverance, ” said Julie Zara, co-owner of Zara’s Collision Center. “We’re so excited for them, and can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds for their lives and children.”

    Since the inception of the Benevolence Program, well over 30 vehicles have been acquired, restored to virtually new condition, and then donated to individuals in need. A comprehensive maintenance check is done to verify the vehicle’s safety and reliability.

One of the vehicles presented today was donated by a couple from the Springfield community; the other was donated by a local auto dealership. Zara’s coordinated all repairs, mechanical work, and preparation for road readiness.

Zara’s vendors, employees, friends, family, and insurance agents also actively support the program. Nearly 50 donors contributed to the program this year for items such as vehicle repair, paint material, mechanical work, gift cards, and monetary gifts exceeding $8,000.

    Zara’s Collision Center, now in its 31st year of business, is located at 3117 Wide Track Drive in Springfield, one block south of Dirksen Parkway and South Grand Avenue East. The company has restored and donated 35 vehicles over the 19 years of the Benevolence Program’s existence.

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.