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Cars for Kids is a car donation charity helping local kids graduate and get their high school diploma since 1992. We are a nonprofit organization with an excellent track record of providing students at risk of dropping out the opportunity to reach their educational goals and create a better life for themselves by earning their high school diploma. This goal is achieved by giving students the tools and resources and that allow them to flourish. Unfortunately, not all kids can function in a traditional classroom setting, and your donation to Cars for Kids provides these kids with the infrastructure and academic setting to be successful.
Donating your car or vehicle to Cars for Kids can truly change lives. In addition to free towing with convenient scheduling options, we offer a $50 gift card as a thank you for your vehicle donation. We accept cars, trucks, vans, boats, motorcycles, RVs, campers, jet skis, forklifts, trailers, or almost any type of vehicle, whether it is running or not.
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At the age of 12, Kim’s mother loaded the family car with a few belongings and her four children leaving McAllen, TX and a failed marriage to the past.
Though her mother held two jobs to make ends meet, the family squeezed into a one bedroom apartment in East Austin. “We didn’t have a bed. We had one pull-out couch, and I would rather have my brothers and my mom sleep on it than me. She worked so much,” Kim remarks.
“You wish you could do so much more to help the people you love, but I wasn’t old enough. I really wasn’t old enough – I was 14. I was still a kid, but I never really felt like a kid because I always had such a heavy weight to carry.” Kim’s love for her brothers can be compared to that of a mother’s love. Ray, a younger brother, was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of three. Ray’s treatments required the family to stay in the Ronald McDonald House for extended periods of time. Ray has since entered remission and undergone more treatment, but this hardship changed Kim’s personal understanding of her role in supporting the family and sparked her interest in pursuing the medical field.
Ultimately, the burden of caring for her brothers affected her attendance and led to her dismissal from her local high school. Austin Can Academy was not a part of the plan Kim set for herself. Principal Oakes remembers, “She had a hard time adjusting in the beginning. It was obvious she didn’t want to be here, but it only took that first day for her to realize that we were here to support her. After that day, it clicked. She was unstoppable.”
“Austin Can teachers taught you more than you needed to know. When I asked a questions they offered answers that lead me to more thoughtful questions. Austin Can makes you feel like family. You don’t feel, how do you say it in English? I want to say ‘No estorbes,’ like you’re not a bother. If I didn’t make it to school on time, I got text messages and phone calls. When your parents can’t be there to push you, the advisors are there to keep you on track. My mom didn’t talk to me about college – Austin Can did that.”
Graduation was so close Kim could feel it. She came rested and ready for her state exams, and then the worst happened – she didn’t finish her English exam within the five hour time limit. Six weeks later, the news that she failed her English STAAR exam hit her hard but she was positive. “Not passing the STAAR test wasn’t the same rejection I felt from other times in my life. I had support around me telling me that I needed to study a little harder. You can’t lose hope with that kind of support,” remarks Kim.
While continuing to study for her state exams, Kim completed her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training and certification at Austin Can. “The Certified Nursing Assistant program allowed me to start working above minimum wage. This certification isn’t the end all, it is the first step into the medical field. Now, I’m working on my Medical Aid Certificate. I’m making a decent amount, and I can continue my classes without having to pick up extra shifts. I’ve been helping the other CNA students get jobs – one of the girls has a house now. Nursing opens so many doors. I enjoy what I do. I want to make a difference in someone’s life.”
Kim has since graduated from Austin Can and continues the effort to surround herself with positive, driven and empowering people. “When you hang around with people who are not on an upward path, you’re not going to change. When you decide to make a change, you have to make the choice about who you spend your time with. Even if it is family or friends, if they don’t get it – you have to remove yourself.”
“The students – we don’t have a lot, we’re not lucky like others. The support people give to the school takes a weight off of our shoulders. It’s a chance for us to become something or somebody. There are people my age who have two jobs. When I tell people about my high school experience, they wish they would have known about Austin Can. The Can doesn’t let you walk out with your diploma, they’re going to help you create those first steps.”
“Honestly, I’ve never felt so stable and happy. Austin Can gave me a confidence to make it through the tough times. In times that I felt like giving up because of the obstacles in my life, Austin Can changed my way of thinking and acting in hard situations. You take what you’ve been through and you take what you’ve seen and you use that to make an impact. I may not be the one to break the chain, but I at least want to be the one to weaken it. I tell my brothers, they can do this – they can make it.”
Kim currently works as a CNA while continuing her coursework to be a Medical Aid. She plans to pursue a degree in nursing and work with children with chronic disease. “Where do I see myself in five years? It’s not so much where I see myself, with an RN degree you can do so much. How I want to feel in five years – I want to be happy. I want to love what I do and want to move forward in that. I just want to be happy really.”
My story begins when my mom was 15-years-old. She was raped by my father and that is how I was conceived.
Soon after I was born my mom was diagnosed with postpartum depression.
When I was two weeks old I had trouble breathing and my mom found out I had a tumor in my throat. I had to have surgery to remove the tumor and then was sent home to recover. Not too long after I went home somehow when I was in my crib all my stiches in my neck ripped open. I am thankful my grandmother came to check in on my mother and I because when she did my mother was standing there watching me bleed out and not doing anything to stop it.
I believe my mother was so still so angry and resented me because I reminded her of her rape. My grandma ended up picking me up and holding my head to my body and getting me to the hospital in time.
This was my beginning.
When I was about 3-years-old my mom married my stepdad. They had my little sister and then my little brother.
From as early as I can remember my parents highly favored my siblings.
I remember one time we were back to school shopping at the flea market when I saw the coolest pair of high top Vans I had ever seen. They had checkers and so many bright colors. I had never seen shoes like that before. I picked them up and asked my stepdad if I could have them.
He looked me straight in my eyes and said no, yet he turned to my younger sister and said, “Would you like these shoes?”
It broke my heart so much because I could feel him using my excitement for the shoes against me. It was just another way to make me feel like I wasn’t as important as my brother and sister.
Drugs are another issue that plagues family for as long as I can remember. My mom’s pregnancy with my sister did not even stop her or my stepdad from consuming drugs day in and day out.
His drug of choice was heroin and my mother’s was meth.
The majority of my childhood was spent watching my parents do and sell drugs.
My stepdad became very violent and would beat on me and my mother on a regular basis.
I remember one time he threw my mother through our glass French doors. She landed on the back porch and in the process her two front teeth were knocked out. I saw all of this happen right in front of me. After her teeth were knocked out he would make fun of her all the time.
She became very depressed and tried killing herself in our bathroom. She locked the door and broke the mirror. She eventually let me in and I saw my mother bleeding from her wrists in our bathtub. Somehow my grandparents showed up and were able to get her help and she lived.
You might be thinking, ‘Where was Child Protective Services?”.
They were there actually. My family went through seven CPS cases while I was growing up.
It was basically hopeless though because my parents coached us on what to say to the CPS workers. They would threaten us with beatings if we didn’t say exactly what we were supposed to.
My parents also had us pee in their drug test cups so they wouldn’t be caught testing positive for drugs.
One time we were removed from our house and went to go live with my stepdad’s mother. She was mean herself and also resented me for not being her son’s child. Life with her was just about as difficult as life at home.
The violence between my mom and my stepdad came to a head one day when he showed up unexpectedly at our doorstep. He had been in jail and had gotten out and not told anyone.
He kidnapped my mother that day.
I called my grandparents and they came and got us kids and we went looking for them. Somehow, by the grace of God, we found them at an old motel on the Westside. My grandfather and uncle and the hotel manager broke down the door and we found my mother duct tapped to a chair. I remember the duct tape being so tight her skin was budging out. She was sweating and crying, but we couldn’t understand her because her mouth was duct tapped shut.
He was arrested and sent back to jail.
I wanted a better life, but things kept going downhill.
You see, all of this was happening while I was going to school or trying to go to school.
On the days I didn’t have to stay home and take care of my baby brother because my parents wouldn’t wake up, I would try attend school, but I always had to remember to cover up my bruises and be cautious to avoid questions from adults.
One day I ended up getting arrested and spend three weeks in juvenile detention. One day a school a girl who had been picking on me called me a bastard. See I didn’t know what that meant until a friend told me.
I became so angry. This girl knew my mother had been raped. I got into a physical fight with this girl and caused her to need a few stiches. I guess all my anger just came out that day because I had never been in a fight before.
I was later arrested and found guilty and sentenced to three weeks in a juvenile detention center. However, there was a good thing that came from this bad situation.
I told my entire story.
I told her everything, all the stories I just told you plus so many more I don’t have the time to tell today. This helped me get out of my parents’ house for good. This started the process of me being adopted by my grandparents.
In a way I am thankful for that experience because I was finally able to get help.
I went to two high schools before I found San Antonio CAN. I never felt like I fit it. When I was there I would miss my siblings and worry if they were okay. After the kidnapping incident my grandparents decided to legally adopt me.
I remember I was in class one time and shared with the class that I might be able to go to college since I was adopted I could get grants. The adult in the room asked me in front of the whole class, “Why are you being adopted? You/re parents don’t want you?”
It was like a punch in the gut.
Immediately after finding the Can Academies I didn’t feel lonely. For the first time, my teachers understood and helped me. They made me feel wanted. If it weren’t for them I don’t think I would be graduating. I finally found find the first place where I truly belonged.
My advisor Ms. Simmons and my English teacher Ms. Hatfield made me feel like they understood where I had been and that I was wanted.
If it weren’t for San Antonio CAN I don’t think I would be graduating from high school.
Now my life is different.
Although my mom will always be my mom and I can’t change the past, I can choose what I do moving forward.
My goals are to join the Army after high school and eventually earn a degree in education and come back to teach at the CAN. I want to help students like me find their purpose.
And as for me, I was adopted by my grandparents. My grandparents love me very much. I have a boyfriend who helped me get in my journey to get off meth and I found a great church that I consider a second home.
I am thankful for the Can, my grandparents, my boyfriend and my church. I am also thankful for those of you reading this today.
I found find the first place I felt I truly belonged, San Antonio Can.
I know now that I life of love, faith and hope to look forward to. Thank you for believing in me.
My name is Kaya and I am a Texans Can Academy alumna.
Originally from a rough Chicago neighborhood, Kaya was frequently in fights.
“That was the only way I knew how to deal with things,” she says. “It was important to show others in the neighborhood I could protect myself.”
Despite a move to Arlington that brought positive change to her family, Kaya still fought at school and skipped classes. She reached out to teachers and advisors for help, but they seemed either busy, or like they didn’t know how.
In December 2017, Kaya was involved in another fight at school. This time, she was arrested. She calls the experience “eye-opening.”
“I can do better than this,” she decided.
After the arrest, with public school no longer an option for her, Kaya learned of Texans Can and enrolled at the Carrollton/Farmers Branch campus.
“It was so different,” Kaya says. “Other students were positive. Everyone had a story and a mission they are trying to accomplish for their lives. The teachers and advisors were supportive and showed me that I was welcomed and cared for.”
During her time at the Can, Kaya never missed a class. She joined their championship-winning golf team, on which she served as captain; went from failing to straight A’s; passed the SAT with a score of 1270—which is above average—and applied to over thirty colleges.
Kaya is also a recipient of the Ann and Nate Levine Scholarship, which she will apply to her college education.
“My plan is to join the reserves and then go to college directly after boot camp,” she says. “I want to study psychology and form a career around helping girls like myself who are in difficult situations.”
Kaya graduated from Texans Can – Dallas in 2019.
Though my life has balanced out now, it has not always been one that is comfortable.
I grew up in what many would call the ghetto. Not only were we poor, but we lived next door to the neighborhood drug house.
My name is Mario, I am 15-years-old, I’m currently a sophomore at Texans Can Academies and this is my story.
Having that house beside us, made a poor neighborhood, dangerous. I witnessed drive-by shootings, people being shot, drug overdoses and our house was robbed frequently.
As a kid, I could not even play outside because there were always guns. One time, I remember that during a police raid, they used a flash grenade and I was outside and it hurt my ears. My dad had to come get me and carry me inside. It was very painful.
Living next to a drug house gave me many opportunities to use drugs, but I had made the choice early on to never take anything. I had watched my brother go down that path and I saw how hard it made things for him. I knew that I wanted more for my life and that I could do better.
We eventually moved and I started high school at South Oak Cliff. I was doing well, but was struggling to pass the TSI test. My goal is to join the infantry directly after graduation and pursue a career in the military. I knew that I would need to pass the ASVAB for military entrance and if I was struggling to pass the TSI, the ASVAB would be even harder.
My sister, who also graduated from Texans Can, told me about the school and the focused help I would receive here. Now I am currently working hard to gain the knowledge needed to successfully pass the TSI so I can move forward. I am also working closely with my advisor and the career transition coordinator to get assistance with the ASVAB and will take it towards the end of my second year.
I came from the ghetto, but I will not remain in the ghetto.
Though my journey is just beginning I can already tell the difference in the students and staff at Texans Can. With the help from my teachers and others I will not only graduate, but I am set to graduate early.
I am excited for this and have big plans for myself, my life, and my service in the military. The support people give to Texans Can helps give hope and impacts the lives of kids just like me.
My name is Mario and I am set to be a Texan Can graduate in June 2019.
Alexis has been enrolled in Houston Can! since the 10th grade. She was frustrated in her previous large public school because of the class sizes and interruptions. Other kids were “class clowns” and disruptive in the classroom and often prevented the teachers from teaching. She wanted to learn and felt like her time was being wasted by the other students and teachers. She would get mad and say things to the teachers about their lack of classroom control, which got her in trouble. She said she had a lot of attitude problems with the situation that she should have handled better. Her attendance began to suffer. She would do her work, turn it in and leave class. She would go to all three lunch periods and miss class. Her grades were good but her attendance was very bad and she didn’t receive credits for the classes.
A friend told her about the Can! and she decided to enroll. She liked the way the class sizes were small, classes were concentrated to core subjects and were half days. She struggled with math concepts since elementary school but the teachers at the Can! simplified the information and made it easy for her to understand. She passed the math portion of the TAKS test the first time she took it at Houston Can!
Alexis was able to graduate on schedule for her age in spite of the lost credits from her previous high school. Growing up was not easy for Alexis. She said she was “tugged and pulled” in several directions from a young age. She had lots of anger issues. Her Dad worked three jobs to support the family so was not around much for guidance and leadership while she was growing up. She met her mom when she was 16. She has had to work to help support herself since she was 16 and is “pretty much on her own now.”