Steve and Mike Howard recieve a thank you certificates from Col. Peter Hronek for all the work they did in restoring a 2001 Honda CRV for the Recycled Rides. (U.S. Air Force photos by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson)
by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson
120th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
4/27/2012 - Great Falls, Mont. -- Montana Air National Guard Senior Airman Sarah-Jane Lattin received the keys to a rebuilt 2001 Honda CRV during a ceremony held Monday at a local automobile body shop. Representatives from local businesses that provided the car and the parts and labor to repair it applauded Lattin as she accepted the gift from Recycled Rides.
The Recycled Rides program was developed by the National Auto Body Council, a professional organization of the collision repair industry. The goal of the program is to match up disadvantaged individuals or organizations in the local community with donated recycled and rebuilt vehicles.
Lattin is a single mother of two children who found herself in need of reliable transportation. Her former car had an inoperable heater and she had been depending on friends to provide rides for her family. She learned of the Recycled Rides program through the 120th Fighter Wing's Airman and Family Readiness Program Manager, Holly Wick, who forwarded the application for her to submit to the organization for consideration.
Latin was surprised and excited to be selected to receive the nearly new looking SUV, complete with two new child safety seats and a working heater.
"We would like to thank everybody involved for all the time and effort that they put into this project for my family. I don't know if they realize how appreciative we actually are. We're very grateful overall and it's a huge blessing," said Lattin.
The car originally came from Butte with rear-end damage so extensive that it was totaled for insurance purposes. It was selected for the recycling program because it could serve its new owner well as a family car, was economical on gasoline and affordable to insure.
"Ultimately, we were looking for something that would end up being the right car for the recipient," said Mike Howard, one of the owners of the body shop that helped with the repairs.
Steve Howard, Mike's brother and also an owner of the body shop, estimates the value of the repaired car to be between $8,000 and $10,000. He said three of the body shop's employees donated their personal time to rebuilding the car for the program.
"It was deemed a total economical loss, meaning the damages exceeded the value of the vehicle. The car goes to basically be disassembled or put into a wrecking yard. We were able to salvage the car before that happened and then recycle it, put it back on the road. It was a good candidate for recycling," said Howard.
The Commander of the 120th Fighter Wing, Col. J. Peter Hronek, presented a certificate of recognition to the businesses to thank them for assisting a unit member in need.
"A lot of our part-timers struggle too with things that they need to do to support their families. What I'd like to do is just thank you because a lot of times we get thanked from our community for our service, and I always come back and say, "thank you for your support." Well, this just shows in real terms of how well you support us," said Hronek.
If you know of a member of the Guard that is in need of reliable transportation that may want to apply for a donated Recycled Rides program vehicle please contact the Airman and Family Readiness Program Office at 406-791-0867.