Holiday keys to Success: Local partnership benefits 2 needy, single moms

Keys to refurbished cars give two single, needy Harris County Department of Education Head Start mothers new opportunities this holiday season.

The two cars are donated by Bates Custom & Collision in Channelview and Baytown and refurbished by their employees. Winners are two HCDE Head Start mothers whose children attend Tidwell and Coolwood, two of 17 of the department’s Head Start Centers in northeast Houston. Local businesses contribute gas, insurance and other vehicular necessities. Bates employees donate gifts which fill the cars.

What: 8th Annual Responsible Parenting Award and Benevolence Car
Wednesday, Dec. 13, 10 a.m., (Tidwell Center mother)
Bates Custom & Collision, 3219 N. Main St., Baytown, Texas, 281-428-2209
Thursday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m., (Coolwood Center mother)
Bates Custom & Collision, 15532 I-10 East, Channelview, Texas, 281-452-0100
Who: Head Start families from Houston (77044) on Wednesday, Channelview (77530) on Thursday;
Bates Custom & Collision staff
Why: Community service project for the holidays accomplished by Bates employees.
The 8th annual car giveaway is highly anticipated by both the recipients and the Bates employees. The mothers submit essays and are interviewed by several committee members prior to the announcement.

Both young women must be active volunteers at the centers where their children attend classes. “Our Head Start moms winning these cars are dedicated to their children’s futures and being good parents,” said HCDE Head Start Director Venetia Peacock. “This is truly the key to a better future for these families.”

Bates Custom & Collision Vice President Leila Bates says her employees take this year-round project on because it’s something positive they can do to help someone in their community. From choosing the donated car to repairing interiors and exteriors from top to bottom to gathering gifts to stuff inside the two cars’ interiors, the project is truly an act of love.

Past Success Story:
Winning a car three years ago opened a world of opportunity for then Harris County Department of Education Head Start mother Katina Hudnall. The single mother of two got a full-time job and went to college after gaining the 1994 Nissan Ultima. That year she and her kids continued to benefit from services offered through HCDE Head Start.

Today Hudnall’s sons Dyan, 7 and Deandre, 11 are thriving in their local elementary schools. Both children had stuttered as youngsters, she says. The confidence the boys gained in Head Start gave them the positive self-esteem they needed in kindergarten, she adds.

Mom is employed full time at Amegy Bank and is currently attending college to become an elementary teacher. She is remarried and the couple is buying their first home next year.

“Having that car opened a world of financial success,” said Hudnall. The car runs like a charm as Bates Custom & Collision employees refurbished its interior and exterior.
“The whole experience has just been a blessing to me,” Hudnall said.

Bios from 2006 winners:
Shannon Trahan, HCDE Tidwell Head Start Center, takes ownership of the Bates Custom
& Collision 1999 Buick Sentry at the Baytown location, Dec. 13.
Shannon Trahan believes it takes a village to raise a child, and she says her village is the Harris County Department of Education Tidwell Head Start program.
The young mom is proud mother to Andrew County, 4. She and her mother have raised
Andrew to be quite the little gentleman, she says.

Trahan graduated from San Jacinto College culinary arts program with an associate degree and quickly gained a job at a major oil company as sous chef. When the engine blew out in her car, she had to resign her position and find another job closer to home with a decrease in pay.

With the award of the Bates car, Trahan is hopeful she can apply for another sous chef job and eventually move into a position as executive chef, one day opening her own business.

In addition to the car, Trahan qualified for a Habitat for Humanity home she learned about through the Harris County Department of Education Tidwell Head Start and moved in last summer.

Shemika Starling of Channelview, Texas, from the HCDE Coolwood Head Start Center, receives the Bates Custom & Collision 1995 Buick Regal at the Channelview location on Dec. 14.

Shemika Starling and her daughter Robye Dade, 3, are active in the Coolwood Head Start near Channelview. She walks about a mile to the center each way to pick up and drop off her child.
Her mother who has chronic asthma recently moved in with the pair, just after Starling’s car broke down for good. Since METRO is their only form of transportation, the family depends solely on the bus to get to work and to see the handful of doctors Robye’s grandmother must see.

With the prospect of a car on the horizon, Starling says she will be able to drive to her job at a local grocery store, drop her daughter off at school, take her mom to the doctors’ appointments and continue to volunteer at Head Start.

“Since Robye has been attending HCDE’s Coolwood Head Start, she loves school, her teachers and her friends,” Starling said. “Every morning–including weekends–she asks to go to school.”

About Head Start:

Head Start is a federally funded program that prepares children 3-4 for school. It also supports and promotes parent participation as it builds stronger families. Low-income families or families of children with special needs benefit from services. Harris County Department of Education services families residing in northeast Harris County, providing 17 area centers for children and their families. For more information, call (713) 672-9343. Access .

About Bates Custom & Collision: Founded in 1990 by Lee and Leila Bates, Bates Custom & Collision has held steadfast to its mission to be the collision repair center of “choice” in the Bay Area of Texas. Through its staff at two locations–one in Baytown and another in Channelview–Bates provides refurbished cars for two needy mothers each year as a community service project. Other community businesses complement the project with auxiliary services. Access .

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