Front row, from left: Viola Ware, Nahdia Blanchard holding her 7-month-old daughter Jocelyn, and Mary Hunchberger. Back row, second-year Peninsula College automotive students. Submitted photo
A 1984 Ford Thunderbird donated to the Peninsula College Foundation by a generous community contributor is making it possible for PC Multimedia student Nahdia Blanchard to finish her degree and start the new life she has been trying so hard to create for herself and her seven-month-old daughter.
Blanchard, who received the keys to her “new” car last week, says, “I feel so very honored and privileged to be driving this car. You have helped me so much!
“This car will help me get to work, make it to college classes and definitely help me get around with my daughter! With a vehicle, I now have everything I need to accomplish my main goal: To start my new life without stress.”
Blanchard, who is just 23, deserves that new life. A self-proclaimed work-a-holic, she sometimes worked two jobs just to make ends meet and now works the 7 p.m.-8 a.m. shift as a nursing assistant at a private home before heading off to Peninsula College to catch a 9:10 a.m. class. Sometimes her work hours extend into 18-hour shifts.
With her new car, Blanchard is now able to avoid the very early mornings and long bus rides she previously had to endure just to make everything work.
Once she completes her A.A. Degree in Multimedia Graphics, she hopes to start her own business.
“I want to be able to create beautiful art to put on clothing and have my own clothing line,” she says. While she enjoys being a CNA, she knows her degree is an important step.
“I want to make sure I can secure my future for my daughter,” Blanchard says. “I want to give back to others who need help and own my own business doing what I love: Art.”
Viola Ware, Family Support Specialist at Serenity House of Clallam County, submitted Blanchard’s name when she learned a car would be available through the college foundation. Blanchard was a client of Serenity House’s Transitions to Housing program and received a short-term rental subsidy to help her toward self-sufficiency.
“We met once a month or so to discuss goals or any barriers that present
themselves,” Ware says. “While in our program Nahdia worked as many hours as she was able. She also enrolled herself in parenting groups … The last few months in the program, Nahdia met me with a written action plan to pay off her debts, obtain her license and return to college (which had always been her goal). She also began working two jobs at the same time.
“Often, in these programs, clients continue until their individual grants run out,” Ware says. “Nahdia is one of our exceptions. I called her early in December to schedule our goal meeting and she said, ‘I don't need any more help.’ Nahdia had assessed her financial situation and realized she no longer needed the subsidy. When I learned about the car, Nahdia was the first person that came to mind, and I cannot think of anyone more deserving.”
Mary Hunchberger, Executive Director of the PC Foundation and College Advancement, agrees.
“We’re very pleased the Foundation has been able to make such a real difference in someone’s life,” she says. “When you have so many people who need a car and you only have one that you can give away, it really drives home how important it is to help others whenever you can. We’re very grateful to the community member who donated the car and for the opportunity it gave the Foundation to change someone’s life for the better.”
Hunchberger says other community members can help by donating cars they no longer drive or need to the Foundation.
“All of the cars that are received are used as teaching tools for our Automotive Department and, if possible, are repaired and donated to students and community members in need. When that happens, lives are changed.”
For more information on how you can help, please contact the Peninsula College Foundation at 417-6535.