Free cars give 2 Houston moms a head start on their life goals

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For Destini Rhodes, the Chevrolet Equinox stuffed with gifts, including bikes for his children, was truly the gift of independence.

Rhodes, a teaching assistant in the Head Start program, relied on a borrowed vehicle after her car broke down. But the lack of reliable transportation made it difficult to drop off and pick up children at three locations each day – and to and from work.

“I will be able to take care of my daily tasks and keep up with my goals,” Rhodes said. “Because I can’t focus on my future goals if I can’t handle what’s going on right now. “

Rhodes and another mother were appointed by the Head Start program of the Harris County Department of Education to receive refurbished cars from Bates crash centers.

The company, owned by Lee and Leila Bates, started the car donation tradition in 1998 to recognize the sacrifices parents often make for their children. Every year, company employees volunteer their time to refurbish cars and fill them with freebies such as toys, gas cards and car seats, according to the company.

“Transportation is life changing whether you have it or not, and people want to help people who help themselves,” Leila Bates said in a statement. “This program doesn’t just focus on their needs, it focuses on their desire to go beyond.

Alionuska Montalvo Perez, a Cuban immigrant with a 3-year-old son enrolled at Pugh Head Start, will receive her vehicle on Friday, according to a press release from the county’s education department.

Perez works as a guard at the Bob Lanier Public Works Building in the City of Houston. She is also a certified phlebotomist, according to the department. She depends on public transportation but hopes the car will allow her to become more actively involved in her son’s school activities, the department said.

Head Start provides children under the age of 5 with a safe learning environment for language, literacy, social and emotional development, according to the county. The Harris County program serves more than 1,300 students each year with free snacks and meals, screenings and physical activities.

“I am very grateful,” said Rhodes, a single mother of children aged 3, 4 and 12. “I’ve never really received anything before. I always had to work for everything.

Rhodes will graduate in May with an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from San Jacinto College. After that, she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in special education.

In light of her acknowledgment of her parental responsibility, Rhodes said she wants to encourage other mothers to be less hard on themselves and to remember that they are not alone, even when they feel like they are. may their work go unnoticed.

“Your kids will notice it,” she said. “Take it day to day. “

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