Nina Archuleta of Roy City, Utah is a single mom with a lot on her plate. While recovering from addition, she is also taking care of her 10-month-old child while working as a full-time associate at Layton Mills, all without the benefit of her own car.
Recognizing her struggles, members of her community banded together to donate a car to the hardworking mother.
Archuleta has to constantly ask for rides or take public transportation to work. That finally changed when the Ogden-based non-profit organization God’s Garage partnered with the America First Credit Union to donate a car to Archuleta, a white 2012 Toyota RAV4.
Archuleta was surprised with the new car at the America First Credit Union’s operation center in Riverdale. She thought she was just there to discuss a car application that she submitted to God’s Garage nine months earlier.
The amazing gift left her in tears. “It’s so big. (It makes) so much difference,” she said. “I couldn’t stop crying… I’m so grateful.”
She added, “It’s so amazing, I can’t even talk. I’ve been without a car for a long, long time. I want to say a couple of years.”
Archuleta, who is also a mother to a 21-year-old, said that it was always difficult to find a way to her fulltime job.
She exclaimed, “Oh gosh, to do things with my daughter, to go to work instead of asking people for rides, it’s so, so helpful. People probably get sick of you asking for rides.”
When asked about the first thing she would do with the new ride, she said, “Go for a ride with my baby. Just drive, until it falls off.”
This is the kind of difference that God’s Garage aims to make among its beneficiaries. Jodi Klingensmith of God’s Garage said that the nonprofit donates cars and mechanic services to single moms, widows, and wives of deployed military members.
Established in Houston 20 years ago, God’s Garage has been in Utah for four years. Members of the Washington Heights Church in Ogden run the local location.
Klingensmith shared that God’s Garage partnership with the America First Credit Union is the first of its kind.
The nonprofit typically receives car and other donations by word of mouth, so Archuleta’s 2012 Toyota RAV4 donated by the credit union is the first from a corporate sponsor.
Each year, Klingensmith and another Washington Heights Church member vet the 200-plus applications submitted to God’s Garage.
A total of 248 women applied for the 40 cars given away by God’s Garage in 2021. This year, Archuleta received the 24th car donated by the nonprofit. Her application was chosen out of a pool of 294 applicants.
It’s difficult to assist everyone who asks for help, but the organization continues to do its best.
According to Klingensmith, God’s Garage feels “a need to reach out and help the community. … God loves us, so we show that love in the community.”
Pastor Jimi Pitts, who runs the non-profit organization, remarked, “It’s one of the most joyous things to see, I’ve been doing it for three years. That little bit makes a huge difference in their life to go forward.”
After a series of interviews, God’s Garage representatives saw that Archuleta made a lot of progress. To donate a car to the single mother would certainly help her raise and ensure a better future for her baby.
“Everyone should be given an opportunity to go forward and for someone to believe in them,” said Pitts.
“Because she’s been on track and doing so well, it is just even more exciting for us to be able to provide that car to get her to where she needs to be.”
On the part of the America First Credit Union, director for public relations Dave Nellis said that the company wanted to donate a fleet vehicle that was being cycled out of the company car lineup.
The 2012 Toyota RAV4 has 99,000 miles on it and needed little repair. He added that Linda Carver, chair of the board of directors, knows one of the God’s Garage mechanics and arranged a tour of the nonprofit’s facility.
While on the tour, Nellis and other credit union employees were moved when they saw a God’s Garage car giveaway. “It really touched us,” he said.
Aside from donating a car, the America First Credit Union also made a financial donation to allow God’s Garage to continue putting money into other cars.
These donations and other acts of kindness certainly go a long way to getting people back on their feet.
Nellis said, “We invest ourselves in the community where our members do their business, where they live and where they work.”
“And this is an example of how we’re able to partner with a company that gives back to the community and it matches our purpose. Their values and our values are right in line with each other,” he added.