Bates Collision Centers, founded in 1990 by Lee and Leila Bates in the Bay Area of Texas, each year provides refurbished cars for two needy mothers as a community service project. Bates Collision Centers has two locations, in Baytown and Channelview.
The recipients of the new cars are mothers whose children attend Harris County Department of Education Head Start programs for families of children age three to five in 16 area centers in northeast Houston.
Laura Hernandez likens the gift of a car to a miracle in the time of need. After separating from her husband, she and her three daughters live with her parents. She struggles to make ends meet as a waitress.
“Without a vehicle and reliable transportation, I find it hard to move forward and feel like I’m falling behind in my economic status,” she said. With a car, Hernandez vows to become more involved in her daughters’ schools.
Kimberlee Owens is the mother of two and is a full-time nursing student. Having a car will allow Owens to continue her studies in nursing upon gaining her associate degree this May. She is an honors society member and continues a rigorous study schedule.
When her children get sick, she must depend on her parents to drive to doctor’s appointments.
“Receiving this award means so much to me in my efforts in becoming self-sufficient in taking care of my children and me,” she said. She looks forward to future library trips with her sons and plans to continue to volunteer in her children’s classrooms when time permits.
“Head Start provides resources for the entire family as they bring their 3- to 5-year-olds to our centers,” said Head Start Director Venetia Peacock.
“These women volunteer in the classroom, are active in their children’s education and are role models for other parents enrolled in the program. To get a car that allows our parents to become self sufficient is a life-changing event,” Peacock said.