Family devastated by Harvey wins giveaway car
2017 was a tough year for the Gomez family. Like so many Houston-area residents, the family of five was devastated by Hurricane Harvey. In a matter of hours, their Cy-Fair home and two vehicles were flooded. Just like that, their sense of security and their very livelihood was washed away.
"No matter how hard we tried to get the vehicles to higher ground, it just didn't work," Gomez said. "Water got into the house, too. We had just bought new couches and beds. In the end, it all had to go."
In Harvey's aftermath, Gomez found herself unable to work due to a lack of transportation. Her husband was no longer able to operate his landscaping business because he had no means of hauling a trailer with equipment. Getting three teens to various after-school activities became next to impossible.
Adding to the Gomez family's woes was the accidental discarding of garbage bags filled with the teens' belongings when well-meaning cleanup helpers mistook the bags for trash and threw out clothing the family meant to keep.
Displaced from their home in Harvey's immediate aftermath, the Gomezes returned to a house of chaos. Mold removal, soaked flooring, destroyed furniture, damaged sheetrock - there just wasn't enough money to go around, especially considering the loss of income for both parents due to a lack of transportation.
Gomez needed help, desperately. She approached Cypress Assistance Ministries.
Santa Claus is coming to town
Gomez walked into CAM, a faith-based non-profit organization dedicated to helping area residents in need, hoping to snag some furniture - a sofa maybe, or a kitchen table perhaps - anything at all would help. The folks at CAM were more than happy to help out with necessities, but they had an even better idea.
The organization was already working with Elite Auto Experts to select a winner for the Holidays 2017 Drive & Thrive Car Giveaway and Toy Drive. Up for grabs, initially, was a 2013 Chevrolet Impala the Elite Auto Experts body shop had restored to like-new condition. CAM encouraged Gomez to enter the contest. So she did.
"We interviewed all the contestants who met the criteria. Then we looked at who would benefit most from this vehicle," said Janet Ryan, Director of Development at CAM. "The thing that stood out the most with the Gomez family is that prior to hurricane Harvey, they were doing ok. Then a single unforeseen incident took them to not having a home, no transportation, and difficulty earning a living. This one event derailed the whole family."
When the members of the selection committee - comprised of local community leaders - cast their votes, the Gomez family emerged as the winner.
"A reliable vehicle allows mom and dad to go back to work, which will solve so many problems all at once," Ryan said. "This car is going to change everything for this family."
Gomez couldn't believe her luck when she learned that her family had won the car.
"I'm in shock. This is such a huge relief," she said. "It's a gift from God, really."
Upping the ante
When the owners of Elite Auto Experts learned more about the details of the Gomez family's circumstances, however, they weren't satisfied with the arrangements.
"We felt we could do better, help more," said Moe Rabieh, co-owner at Elite Auto Experts. "Although the Impala would help the mom get back to work, we thought a bigger car would be more appropriate - in part due to the family's size, but also to help the dad get back to his landscaping business."
Elite Auto Experts gave the Gomezes a choice: The Impala originally offered, or a Chevrolet Suburban. The family chose the Suburban.
"My husband is the main moneymaker," Gomez said. "The Suburban will allow him to get back to landscaping without having to ask other people for help all the time."
Touched by the family's plight, Elite Auto Experts also tucked some Christmas presents into the Suburban's trunk, and arranged for a catered Christmas Eve dinner for 10 people at the Gomez home.
"We want them to have a good Christmas, enjoy some great food, and forget their worries for a while - even if it's just for a couple of hours," said Rabieh. "Most of us take these things for granted. But if you witness the hardships some of our neighbors are going through, you can't just stand by and do nothing."
Gomez has since accepted the keys to the Suburban and is on her way to a better 2018.
One day at a time
The Gomezes difficulties won't disappear overnight, but now there's a bright spot on the horizon.
The family is stilled cramped together in a single room, without privacy. Contractors recently damaged a pipe and water entered the home yet again. The question of mold remains. Hands must be washed in the bathtub and dishes are cleaned in a disposable sink. The kitchen has no counter-tops and everyone sleeps on air mattresses.
"We take it a day at a time. Material things can be replaced, and we're just happy to have each other," Gomez said. "Thanks to CAM and Elite, we can now get back to work, and things will get better from here on out. They're angels. All of them."
WE HAVE A WINNER!
Thank you to all who entered or nominated someone for our Holidays 2017 Drive & Thrive Car Giveaway. Our panel of community leaders, spearheaded by representatives of Cypress Assistance Ministries, has chosen a deserving Cy-Fair family to receive our fully restored Chevrolet Impala.
The giveaway car will go to a local family of 5. The mom is an Army veteran. The winning family was greatly affected by Hurricane Harvey, which flooded the family's two vehicles as well as their home. Worse still, the family's income was lost because there was no way to sustain a landscaping business without an SUV or truck to pull the heavy equipment needed to go about the work.
THE EVEN BETTER NEWS?
After assessing the family's hardships and needs, Elite Auto Experts presented a generous offer to the winners: Choose between the fully restored Chevy Impala (the original giveaway vehicle) AND a Chevrolet Suburban in top condition. The family chose the Chevy Suburban! Not only will this SUV ease the burden of transportation, but it will also help the family get back to its landscaping business.
The winning family will be presented with the keys to the Chevrolet Suburban on Dec. 14, 2017.
This contest is now closed and entries are no longer accepted. The winner of the Holidays 2017 Drive & Thrive car giveaway will be announced later this month. Watch this page for updates!
What's in YOUR stocking?
It's the most wonderful season of all, and it's time for a holiday car giveaway!
We have teamed up with Cypress Assistance Ministries (CAM) for the
Holidays 2017 Drive & Thrive toy drive and car giveaway
About the Car Giveaway
The wonderful elves at the Elite Auto Experts workshop are busily restoring a 2013 Chevrolet Impala to perfect condition. When our elves are finished doing their magic, this vehicle will look and drive like new! The fully restored Chevy Impala will then be awarded to one lucky local winner in mid-December...just in time for the holidays.
And while the kids will be excited to get a new car, just wait 'til they see the bonus surprise hiding in the trunk:
Toys, toys, and more toys!
- You are a resident of zip codes 77065, 77095, 77429, or 77433
- Your household contains a child or children entering grades K-12 for the 2017/2018 school year
- Your current vehicleis unsafe, in dire need of major repairs, or otherwise unsuitable for transportation
- You are 18 or older
- You are in possession of a legal, valid driver's license
- You complete the official application
Submit your own entry or nominate someone who deserves a ride!
How to enter
Complete the form at the link below for yourself, a neighbor, a family member, or a co-worker!
Thedeadline for entriesand nominations is
Friday, December 1, 2017
The winner will be announced early December, followed by the official giveaway ceremony on December 14, 2017, at 10 a.m.
The winner MUST BE PRESENT to accept the vehicle.
The small print
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY to enter or win.Void where prohibited. All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply.
Read the full car giveaway rules here.
How you can help
Let's fill the Impala to the brim with fun toys and useful gear for boys and girls of all ages! We appreciate donations of the following items:
- New toys & gadgets in original packaging
- New clothing items: jackets, tennis shoes or sneakers, boots, shirts & jeans, etc.
- Gift cards to restaurants and department stores
Elite Auto Experts does NOT accept food items!
About the Toy Drive
Let's all do our part to ensure that EVERY family in our community experiences the joys of the season!
CAM provides toys for approximately 950 children at Christmas and relies heavily on the generosity of the community to do so. All eligible recipients are given gifts for their children, food for their family, and a baking basket which provides an opportunity for parents to make cookies or cakes with their children - a holiday activity many of the children served by CAM have never experienced.
- Toys for all ages (don't forget the teens!)
- Gift cards and monetary donations
- Bicycles, and more bicycles
- Gift baskets
- Wrapping paper, tape, bows, gift boxes/bags, and tags
- Toiletry items
CLICK HERE FOR A FULL LIST OF SUGGESTIONS FROM CAM
How you can help
- GET IN THE GIVING SPIRIT:Donate toys, gadgets, gift cards, and cold-weather clothing by dropping them off in the lobby of Elite Auto Experts, 17130-B FM 529, Houston, TX 77095. Items (including food) can also be dropped off directly at CAM, located at 11202 Huffmeister, Door #5.
- FIX YOUR CAR, SPONSOR A KID:For every vehicle that receives collision services at the Elite Auto Experts body shop between now and December 1, 2017, we will play Santa Claus for one local child, donating presents to brighten his or her holiday season
- WHEELS AGAINST CHILLS:Get a FREE tire alignment if you donate a winter jacket or boots by December 1, 2017!
Donated items will be delivered to CAM on December 2, 2017.
About Elite Auto Experts
We are a family-owned, family-operated automotive repair business located in northwest Houston. Earlier this year, we moved to a new location (just next door to our longtime home!) and added paint and body repair services to our list of offerings in an effort to deliver a complete tool chest of services for your vehicle. We pride ourselves on first-rate, honest service provided by top-of-the-line technicians.
Elite Auto Experts is honored to partner with Cypress Assistance Ministries, an established and trusted local charity organization dedicated to lending a hand to those who need it. For more information, please visithttp://www.cypressassistance.org/.