WAKEFIELD — Superintendent David DiBarri is pleased to share that students presented a vehicle they repaired to a local veteran last week.
Recently, students at Northeast Metro Tech worked with instructors to repair a donated 2004 Toyota Prius and award it to a veteran, in partnership with Second Chance Cars, a Concord-based nonprofit that awards affordable donated cars to working people, and the nonprofit’s partners at Bedford Veterans Affairs; American Consumer Credit Counseling and Metro Credit Union.
Approximately 11 sophomore auto body students worked on the vehicle, starting in April, under the guidance of Instructor Robert MacGregor. Students performed minor bodywork and gave the car a complete paint job. It was the first time the students had worked on a “live” car that someone would later drive, not a practice vehicle.
“They were excited to have the opportunity to perform repairs on a vehicle that would be provided to a veteran in need,” MacGregor said.
Automotive Technology students, a junior and several freshmen, along with Instructor John Clune, also replaced the front brake pads and rotors in late May.
“It’s so meaningful for students to have a chance to use their knowledge to make a positive impact on someone else’s life,” Superintendent DiBarri said. “It brings their learning to the next level, truly, and it is always a pleasure for us to work with Second Chance Cars. Community partnerships like this are an amazing example for students of the difference people can make by working together.”
Students, staff and representatives of Second Chance Cars came together on Monday, June 7, to present the vehicle to Ben Baia of Leominster, who served in the Marine Corps from 2014-2018. During that time he earned the rank of Sergeant as well as his black belt from the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. His military occupational specialty (MOS) was field artillery fire direction controlman. To watch a short video of Baia sitting in his new car, thanking all those involved, click here.
“I honestly can’t thank everybody who put in the work and time to make this happen… I can’t thank them enough,” Baia said.
Baia chose not to re-enlist in order to spend more time with his mother, who was seriously ill and later passed away. Baia has lost both parents, but despite the hardships he’s faced has a happy life today. He is currently pursuing an associate’s degree in Fire Science at Mount Wachusett Community College and hopes to become a firefighter. In the short term he is looking to become an armed security guard. He also is happily married, has a stepson he adores and two dogs. Sharing a car with his wife has posed a significant challenge, however, and the repaired Prius will alleviate that hurdle and limitations it posed to job and education opportunities.
Second Chance Cars is able to operate thanks to the donations of gently used vehicles from the public. To learn more about the nonprofit and the vehicle donation process, visit www.secondchancecars.org