Donna Lashmore, far right, poses for a photo with representatives from the United Way Chatham-Kent after receiving her new car, on Wednesday. (Photo by Michael Hugall)

Chatham-Kent organizations team up to give resident a new car

The daily commute for a Wallaceburg resident will be easier as organizations across the region have teamed up to get her a new car.

“It’s absolutely beautiful,” said Donna Lashmore. “I wasn’t expecting to win a car to start with but it’s been a long journey with my little Aveo.”

Lashmore’s work day usually starts with a morning commute to the Chatham YMCA. Equipped with a Chevrolet Aveo which has racked up 260,000 kilometres, she worries about even making it, and if she were to miss work it would be detrimental as the pay cheque is critical for Lashmore’s daily routine.

Before being awarded the new car she was handcuffed by constant repairs. Some of which included buying new brakes, new wheel bearings, and a new caliper all of which needed to be fixed in a three month period, adding up to $800.

Naturally, with a reliance on transportation, there was a mixture of shock and relief when Lashmore found out she would be the recipient of a new Mazda.

“It brings down the stress level quite a bit in my world,” she said. “Coming back and forth from Wallaceburg at quarter-after four in the morning, you want something reliable, in the winter especially. So yeah it’s … wow, amazing.”

It’s been 30 years since Lashmore has driven a car with a manual transition, so for her first trip in the new car will consist of going straight to a parking lot to practice.

“This is a huge change for me,” said Lashmore. “It’s one less thing to worry about.”

The whole plan came to fruition with the help of John McGregor high school. Students from the special high skills major auto shop program chipped in 10 lunch hours worth of labour for the United Way Chatham-Kent’s Rebuilding Wheels Rebuilding Lives program.

The idea was brought to the United Way thanks to the school’s auto shop teacher James Stonehouse. He was inspired to bring this program to the region after reading about how E.J. Lajeunesse high school in Windsor had incorporated it with its students.

“All because of a magazine article we now have a program in place and this family has benefited from it,” said Stonehouse, who now hopes to push the program to as far as Sarnia. “It’s obviously working because now we have a family whose needs have been met.”

Representatives from across the region including some from Chatham-Kent family services, Lally Ford, and Chatham Mazda were on hand during the presentation in the Mazda dealership showroom on Wednesday.