ABOVE: John Rose and his daughter, Journee
For the first time in 22 years of gifting rehabbed cars to needy mothers, Bates Collision Centers decided to take a different approach this year and presented keys to a young African American father whose daughter is currently enrolled in Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) Head Start.
The historic moment took place on December 17th, outside the Bates Collison Center, 3219 N. Main St. in Baytown, Texas.
The father, John Rose, and his daughter, Journee, joined Bates Collision Center owners Lee and Leila Bates, along with their staff and the community to unwrap the mystery vehicle filled with gifts and equipped with insurance for six months.
The annual Bates Responsible Parenting Awards is committed to “helping out with a hand up” as Bates and their staff spend months rehabbing a collision vehicle and then gifting it to a deserving parent.
The 32-year-old father works as a truck driver for Amazon. He says he has turned his life around after getting into trouble in his younger years. His daughter, Journee, 4, attends the HCDE Head Start in Fifth Ward. Her dad also volunteers at the center through a leadership group called the Policy Council.
“This car is going to change my life because I won’t have to take the bus anymore,” John said. “I will be able to take my daughter to school every morning. It’s important to be in my child’s education.”
The Bates’ make the annual giveaway a priority because they recognize the sacrifices parents often make in order to provide for their children.
Journee is a precocious, bright young child with a big vocabulary. She is enthusiastic about learning sight words and is enamored with her father. She will be presented with her own ride, a bike with training wheels.
“Most kids just want to play in school, but Journee wants to go to school to learn,” John continued.
Bates co-owner Lee Bates was immediately impressed by John’s application which was submitted by the center manager. John wrote an essay about his life as part of the application process.
“He owned his mistakes in his life and wants to be a good father for his daughter,” Lee said.
Bates co-owner Leila says both she and her husband Lee are proud of their employees who continue to supply time and resources to families they have yet to meet.
“Putting cars back on the road is part of our daily grind, but this is putting families back on the road,” Leila said. “We have a giving staff, and this project brings our entire team together.”
Leila sees the difference the project makes, from the Bates employees to the families receiving the cars. Car no. 39 will be equally as special for all parties concerned.
“Seeing our team’s faces light up is a gift for us,” Leila continued. “The gift of transportation is a game changer.”
Head Start Senior Director Venetia Peacock said she is excited to kick off the holiday season with this event.
“The generosity of the Bates family and their staff fills our hearts with joy each year,” said Peacock. “This program embodies our goal at HCDE Head Start to build school readiness and success with our families.”
HCDE Head Start serves families of children ages six weeks to age 5, with 14 Head Start centers located in north to northeast Harris County. Income-eligible families and children with disabilities gain free Head Start services to help equip children with academic and social skills for school readiness. Families receive support services in the school readiness program through community partners.
For more information about Head Start, visit www.hcde-texas.org/Head-Start.