UFV teams up with community partners to fix up a car in a day and give it a way

When Shannon Babb was asked to stop by UFV Trades and Tech by her boss, she had no idea what the reason behind the visit was.

When preschool teacher and single parent Shannon Babb was asked to stop by the UFV Trades and Technology Centre by her boss

Nick Penner likes to put smiles on people’s faces, give back to his community, and provide his students with challenges.

The instructor for UFV’s Automotive Collision Repair & Refinishing program was able to do all three recently with a car giveaway that came together very quickly thanks to some community partners.

“When I was working in the industry locally we always used to fix up a car to give away around Christmas-time, and with UFV’s Trades and Technology Centre hosting an open house in March, I thought that refinishing a car and giving it away in one day would be a good way to highlight our program. It would also help out a recipient who could use some reliable transportation,” says Penner.

So Penner went to work procuring donations. Mertin GM came through with a Chevy Cavalier and Fortin’s Supply provided paint and other supplies. Tom Thompson donated a new windshield, and Ken’s Tire and Wheel provided new tires and rims. Penner and eight of his students then committed to a 10-hour-makeover, doing in one work day what usually takes many hours over several days. Through teamwork and other efficiencies, they were able to compress the process of taking apart the vehicle, sanding it down, completing bodywork, and painting it in during the UFV Trades and Technology open house at the Canada Education Park in Chilliwack on March 14. The students involved in the project are from Abbotsford, Chilliwack, and Mission.

“It was a nice little project for the students,” Penner said. “For one day of concentrated effort, they get some nice results, and the satisfaction of seeing someone benefit from their labour.”

When preschool teacher and single parent Shannon Babb was asked to stop by the UFV Trades and Technology Centre by her boss, she had no idea what the reason behind the visit was. Accompanied by her toddler son, she stopped by after work, only to be told that she was being presented with the refurbished vehicle.

“It was a complete surprise,” she said. “I had no idea what I was going in for.”

Jeff Fortin and Rick Opheim from Fortin’s and Jeff Boylan from Mertin’s were on hand for the presentation of the car to Babb. Mertin’s also provided a $1,500 cash donation to be presented to an Automotive Collision Repair & Refinishing student or students.

UFV Automotive Collision Repair & Refinishing students take a 10-month program that prepares them to work in repair shops, custom paint and body shops, and businesses that specialize in collision repair. Find out more at:


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