A struggling Scottsdale family received an unexpected surprise this summer: a fully renovated 2006 Land Rover LR3.
The vehicle was donated by 1-800 Charity Cars, which partnered with Midas and local nonprofit Family Promise. It was repaired and restored by Midas of Scottsdale.
“We were very, very happy and blessed to know that we were going to get a Land Rover,” said Heather Miller, who took possession of the vehicle alongside her husband, Ronnie Ybarra. “We have been trying to get one for five years.”
Miller and Ybarra have a 15-year-old daughter and two boys, 12 and 14.
Working minimum-wage jobs, the hard-working couple not only faced long commutes to work via public transportation – as long as three hours roundtrip – but, as the coronavirus pandemic worsened, they became homeless and were taken in by Family Promise.
“It made us homeless but not hopeless,” Miller said.
“We stayed together as a family and looked out for each other and know we would make it through as a family – and that’s what we did,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter where you live or what you have as long as you have your family and you care and love each other you have everything you will ever need.”
The family was living at Family Promise for 45 days when they received the good news: They would be given a vehicle on July 24.
“A car can be a lifeline to a family, allowing them to participate in their children’s lives instead of hours-long bus rides yielding little time for kids, their biggest priority in life,” said Ted Taylor, executive director of Family Promise.
“A reliable car also brings economic strength back to the family, allowing for better jobs and more flexibility with employers,” Taylor added.
Connected through Family Promise, Miller and Ybarra’s family is one of many across the country who’ve received a vehicle through Midas and 1-800 Charity Cars’ Project Spark Initiative.
Launched in 2018, Project Spark is a national initiative to help families, veterans, and first responders get back on the road.
Their goal is to help more than 1,000 people.
“By providing necessary repairs such as a set of new tires, an inspection or an oil change on donated vehicles, Project Spark lets Midas help others by doing what it does best: fix cars,” said Brian LePorin, vice president of marketing at Midas, in a prepared statement.
Midas of Scottsdale owner and franchisee Greg Milan said he had an extra vehicle at the shop, and rather than sell it, they donated it in hopes of finding someone “deserving and in need.”
“The reason we gave the vehicle is because we have been blessed in life and feel it is our duty to give back to those less fortunate,” Milan said.
Miller calls the Land Rover a “big blessing.”
“It means a lot to us and is going to help us in so many ways,” she said. “We can get better jobs and go see family and be able to do more things as a family — and, most of all, spend more time together.”
The kids love the car, too.
“The kids were happy, too, because now they don’t have to be out in the heat at the bus stop anymore,” Miller said.
The good deeds didn’t stop the moment the family drove the Land Rover off the lot, either.
According to Miller, the Midas of Scottsdale team also offered to buy Ybarra new glasses because his were broken.
“Now, with all the blessings we have gotten, we just need to find a home or apartment that we can afford, and we will be back on our feet,” Miller said.
“We hope that more people see our story and know you just have to ask for the help. It does not mean that you’re no good; it just means you need some help, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Miller added.
“Everyone needs help every once in a while, so thank you, so very much to everyone that has helped us. We are truly blessed.”