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Photo of Marina standing with Nancy (Early Head Start Child Development Specialist) in front of Randy and Michael from Fresno Select Group by the prize van.Marina Tristan is a Fresno EOC Early Head Start parent and has been with the program for three years. Recently a car accident left her car totaled and she had no transportation for her or her four kids. Early Head Start staff saw this single mother struggling to keep a job without a reliable car, while doing her best to take care of her family. After an Early Head Start staff member nominated the mother’s story for a car through the Wheels of Hope program, she was shocked to find out her nomination was the lucky winner.

“This is amazing this is a huge blessing. I appreciate everyone and all the work they put in for this,” said Tristan. “Now I can use this car to get to the interviews I need to and have a way to get back to work.”

Without a car Tristan was unable to keep her previous job or accept any new job opportunities. By getting a reliable car from Wheels of Hope she is now able to have transportation to work, childcare and her children’s school.

“She’s a great mom and has done a lot for her family by being an involved parent and volunteering with our program,” said Nancy Valenzela, Child Development Specialist for Early Head Start. “We thought she would be a good candidate for the car because she’s a hard worker, but she wasn’t able to get to a job without a car. I knew all Marina wants to do is have a job to support her children.”

Individuals must be nominated by someone with a written testimonial on why the candidate is deserving of a car. For this nomination, Valenzela said she “wrote from the heart.” The testimonial she provided also inspired members of the Fresno Select Group, a network of automotive shops who sponsor the Wheels of Hope program.

“It was heartfelt,” said Michael Poulsen, a representative from Ball Tire & Automotive. “We felt for her and we wanted to help her out. She has kids, she’s trying to move forward, but got in an accident that wasn’t her fault and doesn’t have a car. Sometimes life gives you road bumps.”

This year marks 22 cars given to deserving community members. Cars are typically donated and refurbished by automotive shops within the Fresno Select Group.

“We were looking for someone who can take care of that car, have a means to take care of the car and someone who is working to improve their life,” said Poulsen. “There is a need out there; we are grateful we have the ability and resources to help someone move forward.”

Fresno EOC is proud to share this story of an Early Head Start staff member going above and beyond for a parent with a visible need. With her nomination and the generosity of the Wheels of Hope program, a parent has access to a reliable car so she can provide for her family. Learn more about Early Head Start.


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