NHS auto shop students help out single momPublished 11:09am Friday, February 26, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
Right around this time last year, Lacey Kohltfarber was celebrating the arrival of her daughter, Melina.
This year, it’s an arrival of a different sort that brought some much needed joy to the Niles mother.
Kohltfarber’s vehicle was stolen in December. It was found and returned but soon after, she said the automobile was then vandalized – water poured into the gas tank, paint splattered across the car’s exterior and additional damage making the vehicle not suitable to drive.
Meanwhile, auto shop students at Niles High School, with the help of teacher Gary Kind, had been working on a 1994 Oldsmobile donated to the class last year.
“There were a multitude of things we fixed on the car,” Kind said.
Students worked on repairing the vehicle’s engine, replacing its tires, fixing suspension, brakes and electrical issues and filling its fluids.
Through an area community service organization, Kind and his students were connected with Kohltfarber and her need for a vehicle was no more.
The lesson was two-fold for students.
“The students got a chance to learn something doing this project,” Kind said.
Between 10 and 12 students put their time and effort into the car, working on it during class, Kind said.
This is the first time, Kind said, his classes have fixed up a vehicle to be donated to someone in need.
“I’d love to do (more of) that in the future,” he said.
Every so often, people will bring vehicles in to the school to be donated to the class, as was the case with the Oldsmobile students worked on for Kohltfarber.
“It’s always good to have a few more coming in,” Kind said. Through donated vehicles, students get a chance to learn the basic skills of automotive repair.
The class prepares those students interested in a future career in the field or gives them skills they might be able to apply elsewhere.
One of Kind’s students who helped work on the engine when the car was received last year has since graduated and is serving in the U.S. Army.
The class does receive payment for materials used to fix up the car, which Kind says goes back into the auto shop program.
Meanwhile, Kohltfarber, a single mother, will now have a reliable way to get back and forth.
“She’s going to use this car to go back and forth to a job and to school,” Kind said.
Kohltfarber is searching for employment now, but said she needs transportation to get to and from the Work First program, which is required in order for her to receive assistance. She also has been taking college courses online but said she would be transferring her credits to Lake Michigan College.
The vehicle will also come in handy when it comes to Melina, who Kohltfarber said has to go to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo to see a neurologist.
“It’s been a big blessing from God,” Kohltfarber said.