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A new start with a gift car

A car is a pretty good gift by all accounts. For one client of Stop Abuse in Families (SAIF), it means a world of difference.

The domestic violence counseling agency’s executive director Doreen Slessor said that she recently got a call from Larry Ketsa, owner of Sturgeon Auto Body.

“He kept asking us if we knew of a client that needed a vehicle. He would donate the vehicle to her and the first year of insurance, and everything they needed to keep it going for a year as a kind of hand-up.”

The actual donation took a few months to complete. After Ketsa’s original offer, there was a period where Slessor needed to find the right recipient: someone who had a definite need and would make the best use of the vehicle.

“We wanted to find the absolute right person, someone that needed the car, would appreciate the car … wouldn’t drive it into the ground, someone that would be able to pay the maintenance and insurance of it after the first year. Someone that just worked hard and worked through her issues and came out the other side and would really appreciate and take care of a gift like this,” Slessor added.

The anonymous recipient was chosen last week. By Slessor’s account, the woman has had more than her fair share of struggles recently.

“It’s just so amazing. She has been a client for a couple of years now. She’s gone through all of our individual programs. Her son has gone through our youth counselling side. She was doing group counselling with us but she had to miss a couple of group counselling appointments because her car kept breaking down.”

She added that the son also has serious medical issues that require frequent doctor’s appointments and that having an unreliable car was not just an inconvenience to the client but also a hazard to the boy’s health.

Ketsa explained that he doesn’t often find himself with a spare vehicle just laying around. Having this one at his business sparked in him the idea to do something significant with it.

“I just thought that this would be a good thing to do for somebody, especially if they found the right person.”

The four-door sedan, he noted, is a clean car that has been through a battery of inspections and repairs (in partnership with Fountain Tire) to make sure that it is in perfect mechanical and “cosmetic” condition.

But he didn’t just stop there. He also decided to cover the insurance and the cost of the plates for the first year.

“After that, she’s on her own.”

“It was serendipity and everything comes around,” Slessor continued. “All her hard work. It all came together thanks to this lovely man. I just can’t believe it! It’s overwhelming!”

The client was overwhelmed too. Slessor said that the person couldn’t believe it and couldn’t stop crying. “She kinda lost it,” Ketsa said.

“She still just can’t believe that someone in our community has this much kindness and generosity to offer. This makes a world of difference in this person’s life and shows that they are on the right path and that they will succeed and get to where they need to be. Literally get where they need to be now that they need to be now that they have a car!” Slessor joked. “It was like they won the lottery.”

For her part, the recipient was eternally grateful for the unexpected gift. She issued the following statement:

“Starting a new life is not an easy thing to do. My story is not unlike or any more special then anyone else that has had to walk this path, and trust me, there are many.

“There has been lots of down time, but with the help and guidance of the amazing staff at SAIF, I have built a new life, a better life. These ladies help so many, all the time selflessly giving up their own free time to help others make it through. Commendable!!!

“Just when I started to settle into my new life, along came Larry and the wonderful people at Sturgeon Auto Body. Words will never be enough to express how much I truly appreciate your generous gift. How do I thank you for what you’ve done, how you have enriched my life? I want you to know that this is a true act of kindness, and an amazing effort at showing that truly awesome, giving, caring, humanitarians DO still exist.

“From the bottom of my heart…I thank you ALL so, so very much!

You have made the Christmas card list … FOREVER!!!!”

Ketsa presented the keys to SAIF during its annual Dave Hanson Memorial Golf Tournament on Tuesday at the Twin Willows Golf Course in Edmonton.

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