No More Waiting for the Bus

Winter 2014

Recycled Rides Car Means Reliable Transportation for New Mother

A client at Lutheran Family Services’ North Omaha Center for Healthy Families is the recipient of a “Recycled Rides” 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt awarded at the Women’s Fund of Omaha’s Annual Fall Luncheon.

The car went to Gennisha Windham, a 19-year-old single mother of a baby born in September. Windham works full-time at Walmart — a job she returned to just four days after giving birth to her son. “I had bills to pay,” she says.

Nonprofit agencies in the metro area nominated women they felt would benefit from having a vehicle, and a Women’s Fund committee selected Windham as the recipient.

Prior to receiving the car, Windham took the bus or got a ride to work most days. When she worked until 11 p.m. or midnight, though, the bus wasn’t running, and someone was not always available to pick her up. When this happened, she walked home.

“It’s a far walk,” Windham says. “It takes me at least three hours to get home if I walk fast.”

Up until right after her baby was born, Windham also cared for and housed her two younger brothers. The three siblings lived with their father in a one-bedroom house before Windham rented her own apartment.

Windham plans to take classes at Metropolitan Community College to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). Her dream is to become a registered nurse and take care of babies. “I like helping people,” she says.

She has overcome adversity to get to where she is today, and Windham is determined to make sure her son has a good life. “Really, my goal is to be somebody my son can be proud of,” she adds.

Growing up, Windham’s family worried about the lights or gas — or both — being shut off, and they were evicted from their home many times, she recalls. “I just don’t want it to be [for him] how it was for me,” she says about her son.

Windham enrolled in the parenting program at the North Omaha Center for Healthy Families after learning she was pregnant. “Since this is my first child, I felt like it is a lot for me to learn,” she says. “I feel like it can’t hurt to go and get some advice from people who actually have had kids, or are about to have kids, and already know what to do or what I should do to be a good mom.”

In nominating Windham for Recycled Rides, Ruth Henrichs, president and CEO of Lutheran Family Services, says, “Gennisha’s ability to realize when she needed to ask for help from Lutheran Family Services at this stressful time — in addition to the way she works, attends college and takes care of her family — speaks volumes about her maturity and determination to be a good mother and sister.”

Having her own car will mean no more waiting for the bus, calling friends for a ride or walking home late at night. “This is really, really going to help me a whole lot,” Windham says.

This is the fourth year the Women’s Fund of Omaha has presented keys to the chosen recipient at its fall luncheon. Recycled Rides is a community service program of the National Auto Body Council where body shops repair and donate recycled vehicles to families in need.

The 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt was donated by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and was refurbished and repaired by Don & Ron’s CARSTAR Omaha Auto Body Repair Shop. Technicians at the shop volunteered their skills.

“Repairing and restoring the Recycled Ride for the Women’s Fund was a labor of love for our shop,” says Christi Krajeski, vice president at Don & Ron’s CARSTAR. “The technicians and staff worked hard to make the donation a reality.”

“Recycled Rides provides a great opportunity for State Farm to be a good neighbor and meet a need in our community,” says Kelly Pargett, a public affairs specialist at State Farm. “We are pleased to be able to help make this exciting donation possible.”

Krajeski says many other businesses and organizations donated to the Recycled Rides project. These businesses include: AIS Interiors, AutoZone, Charity Cars, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, Don & Ron’s CARSTAR technicians, E.G.S Marine and Auto Detailing, Extreme Paintless Dent, House of Mufflers & Brakes, Huber Chevrolet, JD Casey Paint, Keystone Automotive Auto Parts, LKQ Midwest Auto Parts, Lyle’s Tires and Wheels, National Auto Body Council, SAC Federal Credit Union, Safe Kids Omaha, Safelite AutoGlass, Sparks Computerized Car Care, Young’s Towing and Women’s Fund Circles members.

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