After literally losing almost everything she owned, Kelly Perkins received a phone call from Sal Contreras at Mike’s Auto Body one day that changed her life dramatically in an instant. Perkins, 36, looks back at that special day and even though it was back in 2009, she clearly recalls it like it was yesterday.
“I was pregnant with my second child when my husband (now my ex-husband) was coming to California to join us from Virginia, where he was stationed while in the Navy,” Perkins said. “We had everything we owned in a U-Haul and right about Thanksgiving as he was traveling through Utah it was stolen. Obviously, we were devastated because almost everything we owned was in that U-Haul, except for a few of my daughter’s things and some clothes.”
Without a vehicle and most of her family’s possessions gone, Perkins reached out to whoever could help her, including the Red Cross. But, things started turning around for Kelly and her family when she contacted the Contra Costa Blue Star Moms, an organization that provides support for active duty service personnel, promotes patriotism, assists veteran’s organizations and is available to assist in homeland volunteer efforts to help our country remain strong.
“Debbie Burrows from the Blue Star Moms called us and she helped us immediately with things such as things for the baby–diapers, quilts, blankets and clothes, plus gift cards for other items,” Perkins said. “It was a tough time, but she stepped up and the Blue Moms saved us. We had a great Christmas that year, but at first it was scary. I still talk to Debbie and she will always be a true friend, because she enabled us to make it through it.”
The good vibes keep rolling when the phone rang again and it was Sal Contreras on the line, Perkins said. “He told us that we had been nominated for a Benevolence vehicle and it was a shocker. It was a dark time, but this phone call brought some light and then it kept coming in! The people at Mike’s Auto Body opened their doors for us and it was awesome. When we find out shortly thereafter that we were going to get the vehicle, it was amazing.”
Perkins will never forget the day when she and her family received their refurbished 2006 Nissan Sentra at a presentation at Mike’s location in Antioch. “They filled the trunk with toys and household items and all of the kids got brand new bicycles from the fire department. The local news covered the event and it was on TV the next morning. We couldn’t believe the kindness and generosity exhibited by the Rose family and everyone else at Mike’s Auto Body.”
Now living in Hillsboro, OH and re-married, Kelly has a blended family consisting of eight children (two boys and six girls–ages 1, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14). “California was too expensive and we love it here in Ohio,” she said. “My husband works for Cincinnati Bell as a manager and it’s a great community with a lot of kids and big families.”
In 2013, Kelly had to sell her Benevolence vehicle to get a larger car to accommodate her large family. “We got an SUV, but the Sentra went to a good home–a teenage boy who was learning how to drive,” she said. “It held up so well, we never had any issues with it. That car was like it was anointed to help us and it surely did.”
Today, Kelly looks back at the experience and still smiles from ear-to-ear. “All of the people at Mike’s Auto Body are on our minds all the time and that’s why we do whatever we can to help others,” she said. “To pay it forward, we gave one of our cars to a woman whose ex-husband took her vehicle and left her and her three children without transportation. The Benevolence Program at Mike’s provides a great example for our kids and it was affected them in so many ways. They will come to us and tell us that one particular child at their school needs some new clothes and we will help them. We definitely feel an obligation to give back because of our experience with Mike’s and we hope that everyone who also got a vehicle will do the same.”
Photo credit: Meagan S Hudson Photography