Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Three Families and One Car Combine in a Story About Generosity, Hope, and the Power of Community

The following is a press release written by Elizabeth Archer on behalf of Alliance Auto:

The Rico-Elmer family, the Thies family, and the Vasquez family pose in front of the 2005 Scion [Taken by Kyle Pham]

Alliance Auto Service in Ukiah has served the community since 2004. Owners Salvador Rico and Jenifer Elmer take their role as community members as seriously as they do their commitment to getting cars back up and running.

In September of 2018, young Lucien Thies of Ukiah was diagnosed with a Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor, or MPNST, a rare type of sarcoma with no known cure. He receives care and monitoring from UCSF Children’s Hospital, and his parents, Tom and Nichealle Thies, drive him back and forth between San Francisco to Ukiah. In 2018 the clutch went out on their car. “It was a hard time for us and we couldn’t afford the repairs,” explains Nichealle. Alliance Auto stepped up and did all of the needed repairs at no cost to the family, allowing them to focus on their son. Lucien is now 12, goes to Pomolita Middle School, and continues to commute to UCSF for monitoring.

The Thies family ended up buying a new car and wanted to donate their old car, a 2005 Scion, to another family in need through Alliance Auto. “We could have sold the car, but donating it was a must,” says Nichealle. “It was the only thing to do.” They wanted to pay the generosity forward: could Sal and Jenifer find someone else in the community who needed a reliable car as badly as they had?

Lucien hands Edelmira the keys to her new car [Taken by Kyle Pham]

Once again, Alliance Auto stepped up, donating the cost and materials to do more repairs and get the car running in great condition for the next recipient. Then it was just a matter of finding a new owner. 

In June of this month, Edelmira Cendejas de Vasquez and her husband Jose Luis Vasquez of Willits scheduled an appointment with Alliance Auto because their vehicle was overheating. Like the Thies family, they were using their vehicle to commute to and from UCSF for breast cancer treatments for Edelmira. Alliance Auto diagnosed their car issue and determined they needed a new engine – no small fix and certainly not an inexpensive one. After finding out about the parallel story of a cancer diagnosis and commute to San Francisco, Sal and Jenifer knew they had found the perfect candidate.

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In late June, the Rico-Elmer family, the Thies family, and the Vasquez family united at Alliance Auto Service to meet and hand over the keys. 

“It was a beautiful day of kindness,” says Jenifer. “There were many tears of happiness and gratitude. This is why I love our community.” Adds Nichealle, “We don’t understand Spanish but it didn’t matter. You could see in their eyes the appreciation.” 

Says Edelmira (translated from Spanish), “I am eternally grateful for the generosity of Alliance Auto Service and the Thies family. We will use this vehicle for a long time to help me get to my appointments at UCSF. We wish Lucien all the best and hope they find a cure for him so he can heal.”

Nichealle was moved to have been a recipient of Alliance Auto’s generosity and is honored to be a part of paying it forward, explaining, “I can’t say with words what Alliance Auto means to us. People like Sal and Jenifer go above and beyond in our community, providing help humbly and quietly.”

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  1. Such a beautiful family & true example of kindness! Leaders create opportunities for others to give back as well. Way to go!

  2. What a absolutely wonderful story this is! It makes me cry and brings me joy at the same time!! Words cant describe what this story does to my heart! I want to hug whoever these people

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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