FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 880 S. Lemon Avenue
March 9, 2016 Walnut, CA 91789
Kelli Gile, Office of Community Resources
(909) 595-1261 ext. 31204
Van donated to HARTT Center
WALNUT, CA—The Hockwalt Adult Resource & Transition Training Center (HARTT) Center received the keys to their very own minivan on Tuesday.
When the silver 2014 Lincoln Town and Country minivan was delivered at the school, students immediately gave it the thumbs up.
“These are the kids’ lives you’ve changed today!” exclaimed teacher Cheryl Faren.
The new car was made possible through generous donations from the Walnut Valley Women’s Club, Penske Mercedes-Benz of West Covina, Dedicated 2 Learning (D2L), David Lee, and Davis Lu.
The HARTT Center, which opened in 2014, serves 18-22 year-old students with disabilities who are receiving a Certificate of Completion from high school. The Center teaches important life skills as student’s transition into adulthood.
Partnerships with local business are helping the young adults develop job and vocational skills.
The 20 students and their job coaches take public transportation to their internships four days a week.
“Our students take public transportation everywhere. It’s a skill that they’ll need as adults to become independent,” said Special Education Director Judi Koorndyk.
But there are some areas the busses don’t go and they have to walk.
And on hot or rainy days, the mile-trek can be very long.
“This new van is going to provide a lot of opportunity for our kids!” she added.
“One of the keys to the HARTT program is for students to get out into the community and have real life experiences to prepare them for life. And that’s hard to do without transportation,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.
The HARTT Center’s dedicated staff and parents had a vision to get a van from the very beginning.
When Walnut Valley Women’s Club member Jeannie Stowell read about the opening of the new HARTT Center in the Highlander newspaper, she immediately cut out the article and brought it to friend Dee Chambers.
“We needed to do something for them,” the longtime members shared.
After touring the Center with Faren, they asked a question.
“If you could have anything in the world for the program, what would be your first choice? She immediately replied ‘A van!’” Chambers explained.
“And we said, ‘We’ll do our best!’, and that’s how it got started,” she added.
The Women’s Club donated $9,400 towards the van.
“We saw what incredible people at the HARTT Center are doing for kids today,” said Joe Mehanna, President of Penske Mercedes-Benz in West Covina after touring the Center.
“And we want to be a part of this!” he added that Penske donated a portion of the cost of the new car for the HARTT Center.
“The least we can do as a business is give back to the (Walnut Valley) community and the kids!”
“The reason we’re here every day in our school district is to help kids and meet their needs, and we can’t do that alone,” said Taylor. “It takes a village!”
“It’s the whole community working together for them,” added Nancy Hogg, retired WVUSD administrator and D2L co-founder.
Faren is excited about the future with the school’s new wheels.
“This will open up tons of new areas for us, like Brea Mall and Chino Hills.”
She also plans to help educate students about sites available after the HARTT program.
“Normally I’d have to get a school bus. Now, I can load up a couple kids that are aging out and take them around. It will be so nice!”
Walnut Valley Unified School District’s HARTT Center received the donation of a minivan on March 8. Shown: Penske Mercedes-Benz President Joe Mehanna Teacher Cheryl Faren, Special Education Director Judi Koorndyk, Students, Mary Hockwalt Hockwalt (wife of former superintendent Dr. Ron Hockwalt), Walnut Valley Women’s Club Members Dee Chambers, Jeannie Stowell, Board Member Cindy Ruiz, and Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor.