Student, daughter on road to brighter future
Nahdia Blanchard, center, holds her daughter Jocelyn and the keys to a 1984 Ford Thunderbird given to her by the Peninsula College Foundation. She is flanked by Viola Ware, family support specialist at Serenity House of Clallam County, left, and Mary Hunchberger, executive director of the Peninsula College Foundation and College Advancement. Behind them are the second-year Peninsula College automotive students who worked on the car.
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Nahdia Blanchard received the keys to the car, given to her by the foundation, earlier this month.
“This car will help me get to work, make it to college classes and definitely help me get around with my daughter,” she told Mary Hunchberger, executive director of the Peninsula College Foundation and College Advancement.
“With a vehicle, I now have everything I need to accomplish my main goal: To start my new life without stress. You have helped me so much.”
Blanchard, 23 — mother of 7-month-old Jocelyn — sometimes worked two jobs just to make ends meet and now works the 7 p.m. to
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, said Phyllis Van Holland, Peninsula College public information director.
Sometimes her work hours extend into 18-hour shifts, Van Holland said.
The car means she can avoid the very early mornings and long bus rides she previously had to endure just to make everything work.
Once she completes her associate degree in multimedia graphics, Blanchard 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 said.
While she enjoys being a certified nursing assistant, she knows her degree is an important step.
“I want to make sure I can secure my future for my daughter,” Blanchard said. “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 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 presented themselves,” Ware said.
Ware said that while Blanchard was in the Serenity House program, she “worked as many hours as she was able” and enrolled herself in parenting groups.
Blanchard developed a written action plan — which entailed working two jobs — for paying off her debts, obtaining her license and returning to college, Ware said.
“Often, in these programs, clients continue until their individual grants run out,” Ware said. “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,” Ware said.
“When I learned about the car, Nahdia was the first person that came to mind, and I cannot think of anyone more deserving.”
Hunchberger said that foundation officials are “very pleased the foundation has been able to make such a real difference in someone's life.
“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.”
Other community members can help by donating cars they no longer drive or need to the foundation, Hunchberger said.
“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,” she said.
For more information, phone the Peninsula College Foundation at 360-417-6535.
Last modified: February 18. 2013 5:51PM