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‘An absolute blessing’

Bukhari Automotive donates van to LifeWorks

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
LifeWorks Executive Director Teresa Naughton stands with Gloria and Azzi Bukhari in front of the 2004 Dodge Grand Caravan the Bukharis donated to the LifeWorks program on Tuesday morning. Naughton called the donation "an absolute blessing."

When Teresa Naughton checked her messages at her LifeWorks Community Services office on Friday, she thought someone was playing a prank on her.

She had a voicemail from a local pre-owned car dealership telling her they wanted to donate a vehicle to LifeWorks, an agency that works to provide opportunities for growth and achievement for persons with disabilities.

It was April Fools’ Day and surely this was a joke.

Except it wasn’t. The owners at Bukhari Automotive, 2107 U.S. Highway 169, really did want to donate a van to the organization.

“Vehicles are difficult to get nowadays,” said Naughton, executive director of LifeWorks. “And so to have a vehicle fall into our lap like this has been an absolute blessing.”

Naughton said the vehicle — a 2004 maroon Dodge Grand Caravan — will be used for residents of one of LifeWorks’ 24-hour residential sites. The 24-hour sites are supportive community living for adults with disabilities in their own apartments and homes, where up to four individuals live together as roommates.

“We have a staff member there who helps them do all the things that they need to, like get to work, grocery shop, see friends and go out places,” Naughton said. “So we need transportation to get them where they need to go.”

The Bukharis also own a non-emergency medical transport service, so they understand the need for reliable transportation for people with special needs. Azzi Bukhari said sometimes, when a person with a disability needs to go somewhere, the transport service might already be booked and unavailable.

“They needed their own transportation,” he said. “So we’re donating to make their system better.”

“We know people who work there and we know how the struggle is, just knowing that personal side of it makes it easier to donate,” added Gloria Bukhari.

Azzi Bukhari said they’re glad to be able to give back to the community in this way.

Naughton received the donated van on Tuesday morning. It’s even equipped with a wheelchair lift in the back.

So, it turns out, that surprise in Naughton’s messages on April 1 wasn’t a joke, after all.

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