What better way is there to celebrate Americaâ€™s birthday than to provide a life-changing gift to someone who has served our country in the U.S. Marines and Navy?
For the second time in seven months, Western Nevada College has worked with National Auto Body Council Executive Director Chuck Sulkala, State Farm Insurance Company, and the Recycled Rides project to donate a refurbished automobile to a deserving community member. Last December, WNC faculty and students refurbished a 2009 Cobalt for a Carson City single mother of three. For both of WNCâ€™s Recycled Rides projects, State Farm Insurance donated the vehicles.
On Saturday, July 4, at the Carson City campus, WNC presented a 2006 GMC Envoy car to Michael Atkinson, a veteran who is enrolled at the college.
A campus selection committee decided that Atkinson overwhelmingly met the criteria for the donation.
â€œWe were looking at not only someone who has served our country but is also serving their community when they got back,â€ said Timothy Galluzi, a pre-admissions adviser for WNCâ€™s Veterans Resource Center who served eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Atkinson was selected, in part, because of his contributions to both of WNCâ€™s Recycled Rides project.
â€œIt feels good on a patriotic holiday that we can reward fellow vets in such a way, especially such a deserving individual,â€ Galluzi said. â€œMichaelâ€™s the type of individual who wouldnâ€™t ask for anything in return.â€
Zach Adams met Atkinson when they were freshmen in the Reserve Officersâ€™ Training Corps program at Carson High School. They both joined the U.S. Navy in 2008, and Atkinson eventually became part of the U.S. Marine Corps, where he helped assist the injured on front lines in Afghanistan.
â€œHe doesnâ€™t ask for much, but when you need him, heâ€™s there,â€ Adams said.
Since returning to civilian life, Atkinson has excelled in the classroom at WNC, being named to the Deanâ€™s List for fall 2014 and spring 2015 and becoming a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
Recycled Rides has restored more than 1,000 vehicles nationally in the NABC programâ€™s eight years of existence. The program commonly accepts vehicles 3 to 8 years old with less than 100,000 miles from rental car companies, insurance companies and auto auctions. Through the generous efforts of collision repair shops, college programs, parts vendors, paint suppliers and others, the donated vehicles are restored to a useable condition. The nonprofit program seeks out people lacking reliable transportation so they can meet the demands of their work schedules, shuttling their children to school, going grocery shopping and making medical visits.
â€œRecycled Rides is another way that State Farm can contribute to families and organizations across the country in a way that truly helps improve the quality of their life,â€ said State Farm Agent Clay Murray. â€œItâ€™s great to know that that our donation of the vehicle will make a difference in a communityâ€™s efforts to help families recover from the unexpected and realize their dreams.â€
WNC President Chester Burton said the college plans to increase the number of donations it makes in the future.
â€œFor the future, I see WNC working with Recycled Rides to obtain the donated vehicles and complete three to four vehicles a year in conjunction with the program,â€ said Burton, who dedicated 20 years of his professional career to the U.S. Navy, including working as a Naval Supply Officer at the Fallon Naval Air Station.
Sponsors of Saturdayâ€™s donation included All American Auto Body & Service, Atkins Classic Floors, Capitol City Gun Club, Concours Body Shop, Dunkinâ€™ Donuts, Jimmy Johnâ€™s, Martin Auto Color, Paul Schatâ€™s Bakery, Prestige Car Wash & Detail Center, State Farm Insurance, Tri Valley Glass & Screen, WNCâ€™s Student Veterans Club and WNCâ€™s Veterans Resource Center.
Special thanks in helping put the project together goes to Zach Adams; Bob Andreasen; Michael Atkinson; Mike Bennett; Joe Brillhart; Kevin Burns; Andrew Cheechov; James Dempsey; Angelo DePerez; Natalie Frey; Timothy Galluzi; Alex Garic; David Giles; Paul Gould; Drew and Nicole Hansen; Austin Lambert; Lilly Leon-Vicks; Mark Leonard; Dennis Marshall; Donald McKay; Joe Mora; Steve and Stefan Murray; Randy Naylor; Hillary, Tina and Jameson Nelson; Joseph, Hannah and Harlan Ouellette David Steiger; Tom Stryker; Chuck and Linda Sulkala; Zach Washabaugh; Linda Whitehill; Rusty Wolbers, and the WNC Marketing Team.