Ron and Peggy Bergen have reason to celebrate; 75 vehicles acquired, fixed, and donated through the Acts of Kindness (AOK) program Cars For Moms.
The program has provided refurbished, roadworthy vehicles, free of charge to single mothers or families whose current automobiles are running on their last leg.
Ron, a retired automotive teacher with a heavy-duty mechanic background, decided to help out when the first facilitator moved away from Langley.
Peggy would step in to help on the administration side a short while later, leading to a dedicated team that would help families for more than seven years.
”It was a two-part situation,” Peggy explained. “We would put it out through AOK website that we were in need of vehicles and a lot of moms had already found the ministry”
The Bergens said they often had a wait list of people in need of a vehicle, which spanned as far as Coquitlam – though she said they consciously tried to keep the donations local.
Peggy called her husband a “very gifted mechanic,” who could get anything running to road-ready standards.
The couple also said they encountered many emotional stories, often seeing situations of financial hardship and domestic abuse.
“There was so much stress in their lives,” Peggy recalled, “but every story is just so genuine and valuable.”
While she believes the COVID-19 pandemic has made problems even more paramount, silver linings such has friendships have blossomed because of the program.
“Moms were asked to say thank you or to write a letter to the donor, and some would even go out to dinner or keep in touch,” she explained.
The key for what the Bergens referred to as “car number 75” was passed into the hands of their final recipient on Wednesday, Oct. 7.
The Bergens have decided to retire, given that Ron’s age and health issues are beginning to slow him down.
Peggy said the last donation was emotional, but she is confident that this is far from the end of the Cars For Moms Program.
“We’ve been thinking about the future, and you don’t want to see the program go away,” Peggy said. “We like to think that we are just taking a break.”
She thinks more community sponsorship and support from businesses would benefit the program significantly.
Of course, the main component now needed is two new dedicated volunteers to take over where the Bergens are leaving off.
“Ron and I are old school, and I am sure people will do it in a completely new and different way,” she said. “It’s volunteer work that just takes two people… it’s not hard.”
Peggy noted that “car number 74” is still sitting in the garage because of an ICBC licensing issue. She said their retirement from the program will feel more real once that car is picked up and driven away by a deserving family.
To learn more about AOK and the process of making a donation, contact Church in the Valley’s Acts of Kindness program at 604.514.8335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
People can also visit www.actsofkindness.ca/cars-for-moms.
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