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  • Written by Gabrielle Gore
  • Category: News & Updates
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Why this veteran quit his job to fix people's cars for free

By CATHY FREE | Special To The Washington Post | Published: December 14, 2019

Tamesha Rayes climbed behind the wheel of her 2011 Hyundai to drive her son to school one morning last spring, but her car wouldn't start.

A troubleshooter from her auto insurance company came out and told her she probably needed a new starter or alternator, which are both expensive to acquire and install. Her heart sank.

The single mom and Air Force National Guard veteran from Moore, Oklahoma, wasn't working because she had returned to college to pursue her degree and become a middle school English teacher.

"I didn't have the money for an expensive car repair," said Rayes, 39, who used her car to drive her son to school and herself to her college classes.

Then a friend told Rayes about Hard Luck Automotive Services, a nonprofit car repair service started by Adam Ely and his wife, Toni Ely, in the Oklahoma City area.

After Rayes called Adam Ely, he drove to her house the next morning with his toolbox, tinkered around under the hood for a bit and confirmed the car needed a new starter.

"We'll find you a good deal on a new one," Rayes said he told her.

And then he told her this: He'd do the labor for no charge. The whole thing cost her $200.

"I could hardly believe it," said Rayes.

When Ely then took her and her 9-year-old son, Tysen, out for ice cream, a new friendship was sealed.

"I can't say enough about what he did - he's a blessing," Rayes said. "Without him, I don't know what I would have done."

It's something that Adam Ely hears often since deciding to repair cars for no charge.

It started in the fall of 2017 when he noticed that a car driven by his daughter's friend was running poorly.

"I said, 'Hey, let's get your car fixed,' and she told me she'd like to, but it would cost $400 that she didn't have," recalled Ely, 40. "I told her I'd fix it for free and it ended up costing her $65 (for parts) instead of $400."

That weekend, said Ely, he did some soul-searching and told his wife he'd like to help others whose cars were just a few miles away from a breakdown. She thought it was a great idea and wanted to help.

After putting a notice on Facebook, they came up with the idea for Hard Luck Automotive. Toni Ely would focus on public relations and fundraising through T-shirt sales to pay for tools, gasoline and oil, while her husband would handle the repairs.

A former Army paratrooper and helicopter mechanic, Adam Ely developed asthma, hearing loss and post-traumatic stress syndrome in Afghanistan, where he served for four years. Since 2007, he has received federal financial assistance, which supplemented the paychecks he earned as a civilian aircraft mechanic once he returned home.

Because Toni is still working as a B-52 bomber program manager at Tinker Air Force Base, they decided they would be able to get by financially if Adam left his job to focus on Hard Luck Auto.

"It made sense to us," said Adam Ely, who taught himself to repair cars as a hobby when he was younger.

"When I first started fixing cars for free, it was in my spare time when I wasn't working on aircraft," he said. "But it wasn't long before my days off were busier than my days on the job. It was obvious to me that people were in need of some help."

The Elys have always owned reliable cars, and they live in a cozy three-bedroom, two-bath log cabin on several acres, he said.

  • Written by Gabrielle Gore
  • Category: News & Updates
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20 Easy Ways to Show You Appreciate Veterans and Military Service Members

20 Simple things to do to show you Appreciate Veterans and Members of the Military

 

  1. Say thank you. It’s that easy. If you see a member of the military or a veteran walking down the street, in a mall, restaurant or any place, say “thank you for your service."
  2. Send greeting cards. Greeting cards with personal notes are always appreciated. Check out your local dollar store, they often sell them two for a dollar.
  3. Talk to veterans in your family. Chances are someone in your family is a veteran. If they are willing, talk to them about their experiences in the service. You will probably find out things you never suspected and they will love knowing you care enough to ask and listen.
  4. Visit a veteran’s hospital. There are many vets that are alone. When they are sick or injured a visit in the hospital means more than you may ever know. Nothing says you appreciate veterans like visiting those in need.
  5. Place flowers on a grave in a veteran’s cemetery. It doesn’t have to be a holiday like Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day to do this. Any day of the year shows you care. While you’re there, if you see an unkempt grave site do a little sprucing up. You’ll feel good for it.
  6. Read your kids a book about veterans. Start teaching your kids early how our veterans and the military served to keep us free. There are many books that are great for kids. The Wall by Eve Bunting, is an especially good book for kids. It tells about a young boy and his father that visit the Vietnam Memorial to see the boy’s grandfather’s name there.
  7. Say something on social media. Whether Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or another social media account is your favorite, mention how you appreciate veterans.
  8. Take care of a military member’s pet while they are deployed. The last thing a member of the military needs to worry about is their pet while they are deployed. Dogs on Deployment is a non-profit that matches service members with volunteers to keep their pet while gone.
  9. Pay for a meal in a restaurant. If you see a vet or military member at a restaurant ask your server to bring you their bill so you can pay for their meal. You don’t even have to let them know it was you.
  10. Volunteer to visit or feed the homeless. There are many homeless veterans. If you volunteer at a homeless shelter you are almost certain to encounter vets. Don’t forget to thank them for their service!
  11. Visit a VA retirement home. Take with you some large print books or offer to read to them. So many veterans in retirement are very lonely and relish talking with people.
  12. Have your dog certified as a therapy dog. You and your four-legged friend will both be gratified by the joy that comes from a therapy dog visiting hospitals and retirement homes.
  13. Offer a veteran discount. If you are self-employed, be sure to have special offers and discounts for veterans. If you are an employee speak with the owner or management about doing this to show that the business does appreciate veterans.
  14. Help a veteran with their resume. When members of the military transition to the civilian workforce they often have no resume or place to start. An impressive resume makes a difference. Help a vet write their resume to make their work experience in the military shine through to how it will help them with a new job.
  15. Buy products and patronize businesses that support veterans. There are several organizations and businesses that donate a portion of their proceeds to help veterans. 
  16. Be a mentor. If you have business experience, are an entrepreneur, or have talents you can share, mentor a vet. Mentorship truly makes a difference.
  17. Volunteer at the USO. Military members count on the USO at airports and other locations. Whether it is a regular volunteer shift, cheering troops when they come home, or simply listening, the USO provides a wonderful way to help.
  18. Help remodel homes for disabled veterans. Vets in wheelchairs or with special needs often need their home to accommodate their special circumstances. Building wheelchair ramps or wider door thresholds are a big help.
  19. Offer your babysitting services. This works for even young teens and adults. Every parent can use a night out and veterans are no exception. Offer to watch the kids for an evening while the parents get a much needed break and time alone.
  20. Give your seat or place in line to a veteran or member of the military. If you are waiting in line at the grocery store, to board a plane, or at the DMV, give your place in line to a vet or military member that is further back in the line.

 

 

                                                                                                                                ~ Veterans/ By James Dalman/Veteran  Appreciation