Staff Sgt. Stacy Bernard, 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion; Spc. Nikolai Patterson, Warrior Transition Unit; and Pfc. Andrew Parvin, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, were the recipients of refurbished vehicles, which ranged in years from 2008-2011.
Greg Clark, the chief marketing officer for Caliber Collision and the membership chair for the NABC, was on hand for the unveiling of the vehicles on the field at AT&T Stadium.
“Last fall, before the Celebration of Love, we put up a notice out on social media and other places around Fort Hood to ask if anyone knew of someone who needed help with reliable transportation,” he said. From the submission forms received, they had about 50 different names. The organization selected three recipients to receive a Recycled Ride in the fall – two at Celebration of Love and one at the first Military Combine at Hood Stadium in November. They then chose from the remaining 47 names of Soldiers who would be gifted the cars at the February combine.
Clark said the hardest part of the process is having to choose just a few names out of a larger pool of deserving recipients.
“You look at their story, you look at their situation,” he said. “You look at whether or not they’ve had a tough situation – and all of them have in one way or another. And you look at whether they have Family, little kids, that kind of stuff. But it’s a really hard thing to do.”
Bernard said she felt disbelief and shock when she learned she’d be receiving such a large and important gift.
“It’s an honor and it’s a blessing because this is something that I really needed, especially to take care of my family,” she said.
After returning from a deployment to Afghanistan, Bernard faced an array of medical issues and her mother was able to come up from Galveston to help get her to her medical appointments and take care of her while she recovered. But recently, her mother has had to return home to care for another family member.
“My father was just diagnosed with cancer and he’s been in the hospital and it’s been stressful, especially not having a reliable vehicle,” she said. “I’m just thankful and very blessed to have the opportunity to have this vehicle.”
Patterson was also shocked when he learned he was picked. In fact, he initially thought it was too good to be true – a scam.
“Now I have a way to get to my medical appointments and stuff like that because I was in a bad car accident a while back, so it means a lot to me,” he said. “A lot.”
For Parvin, a single father to 5-year-old Amella, the struggle and stress of not having reliable transportation was a massive burden.
“Getting to PT, getting to work, getting her to school was more along the lines of calling Uber, calling a taxicab, getting a ride from friends,” he said, adding that it’s also been difficult going grocery shopping and shopping for things his daughter needed. “So this is a huge relief on our progress together as father and daughter.”
Parvin said he, too, thought the notification in mid-January that he’d be receiving a new-to-him car was fake.
“I couldn’t believe it... I was mostly speechless,” he said. But he couldn’t wait to tell Amella.
“She was pretty happy,” he said. “She was like, ‘We can go to Chuck E. Cheese,’ and she started naming off places she likes to go to.”
In addition to the newfound daily freedom Parvin and his daughter will have, he said they’re looking forward to taking their car to visit Family in Arkansas and California.
As an added surprise to the three Soldiers, each of their cars had a load of extra gifts hiding in the trunks for them to find. Gifts included movie and popcorn combos, other gadgets for the adults and plenty of new toys for Parvin’s daughter.
Parvin said he’s “very grateful” to the NABC, which is a national non-profit organization with members such as Caliber Collision, State Farm Insurance, 3M, AutoZone and many more auto body repair, insurance and car rental businesses. The NABC organizes the Recycled Rides program.
According to Clark, Recycled Rides has gifted more than 100 vehicles to military members and veterans over the last five years.
We would like to thank Fort Hood Sentinel for reprint permission.