“I was blessed:” Montcalm County woman receives van donation

GREENVILLE, Mich. — It was the surprise of a lifetime for a single mother of two children.

It's a gift Lisa Hernandez says is life changing because she commutes from Muskegon to Greenville twice a week working at the Arms of Love thrift store.

Hernandez was on her way to work on Friday when her car broke down, something that's happened time and time again. After calling her coworker, Jodie Mellema, and told her she wouldn't be able to come into work, Mellema jumped into action and found someone who'd help her out.

Friday was a tougher day than usual, Hernandez says.

"I was on my way here and I had called Jodie and said I can't make it up there," said Hernandez. "I didn't think my car would even make it."

Hernandez has been giving out free government cell phones to people on state and government assistance at the Arms of Love thrift store for a few months. In that time, Hernandez says she's built relationships with the people who work there.

"They're my second family," said Hernandez. "I love them to death."

When Hernandez said she wouldn't be there because of trouble with her vehicle, Jodie Mellema decided to make a call.

"When somebody's down, we're here to make them smile, "said Mellema.

Mellema called a couple she knew had a van they wanted to get rid of. Those donors want to remain anonymous, but Hernandez knew who they were.

"They told me they wanted to give me a gift which was a van," said Hernandez. "It makes me want to cry. I was blessed."

It's something Mellema and organization president Karen Morales say happens everyday at Arms of Love.

"Everybody here helps everybody else," said Morales. "One hand washes the other."

"It makes me happy inside to see somebody else happy," said Mellema. "To see that smile and have people see that these people care is why we're here."

It's a gesture Hernandez says is life-changing.

"It's going to have a huge impact because everyday I was thinking to myself I was going to lose my job because my vehicle's going to break down," said Hernandez. "That was something I was thinking everyday and if I lost my job then I'd lose the goals that I have for me and my family and I don't have to worry about that right now."

Hernandez says the couple who donated the van to her is also planning on paying to get some work done on it. They've already given a mechanic their bank information so Hernandez doesn't have to pay a dime out of pocket.

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