Two Parents receive Cars as gift, in HCDE Responsible Parenting Awards

Local business donates cars as Holiday Gift

By Allan Jamail

Dec. 14, 2023, Houston, TX. ~ At the Harris County Department of Education’s Head Start Division (HCDE) Annual Responsible Parenting Awards ceremony, two worthy parents received the Bates Collision Centers gift wrapped refurbished cars packed with gifts.

Each parent with their daughters cried as they feverishly ripped off the wrapping paper concealing their car. There were tears of happiness from the Bates family, the Bates workers and guests in attendance as they watched the joy being expressed by the two mothers. On a sign displayed nearby it listed about 30 of Santa’s Helpers who contributed to the gifts.

HCDE Head Start Senior Director Venetia Peacock said, “In a world where opportunities to uplift others are often missed, the Bates have established a 25-year tradition of doing just that. Their enduring partnership with HCDE for the past two decades speaks volumes about the value they place on community collaboration.”

“Family Service Providers from our 20 HCDE Head Start campuses identify parents in good standing and nominate them for the award. Parents then complete the Responsible Parenting Award application, which is reviewed by the Bates Collision Center’s employees at their Baytown and Channelview locations. Each center will then select a winner to receive a refurbished car,” said Shelby Trahan, Communications Coordinator.

Recipient Diomanique Brown looked up to Heaven and praised God and thanked Jesus before she received the car. Chairperson of the parent committee at Compton Head Start said Brown often uses a borrowed car to make sure she and daughter Princess can get to school and work each day. When she cannot find a ride, she walks or asks friends and family for help.

NC Star writer Allan Jamail got the following comments from the two mothers and Lee and Leila Bates.

Brown said, “This has truly been an amazing day. My daughter Princess Ma’Laya Brown and I are so beyond grateful. This 2023 Christmas will truly be a Christmas to remember. All of you are angels and may God bless you all as well. You all did not have to come together and do all of this for us but you did and we thank you. This will help Princess and I so much, and we’re gonna take very good care of our new baby, her name is Prancer 21. And my heartfelt thanks to Compton Head Start for nominating me… Goooo Compton!”

Recipient Marisol Moreno has depended on friends, co-workers, and ride-sharing apps to get her and her daughter, Magaly, where they need to go. Moreno came to Houston two years ago from Wyoming. She’s a teaching assistant at Fondwood Head Start and is working towards her child development associate degree.

Moreno said, “I want to start off by thanking my bosses Markeysha Hinderman and Maria Hollins at Fondwood Head Start, for nominating me. And a big thanks for Leila and Lee Bates and their team for making this possible.”

“I am beyond thankful for everything that was given to my daughter and me. I feel so blessed, and I still can’t believe I have my very own vehicle to transport my daughter to places. I want to give a big thank you to those who donated their time and the ones who donated those beautiful gifts. May God bless you all abundantly.”

“Now I can take my daughter on all the trips her heart desire. We no longer have to push for time or interfere with anyone’s schedule and for that we LOVE each and every one of you that thought we deserved all of this. Again, THANK YOU.”

Bates Collision Center owners Lee and Leila Bates thanked the North Channel Star for attending and covering the awards ceremony and made the following statement.

“This year was very exciting for the Bates Collision team as we presented the 45th and 46th vehicles as part of our 25-year tradition of blessing hardworking families with the Responsible Parenting Award.

Part of our “mission” at Bates Collision is that we believe in letting our Christian faith and values direct our decisions and one of our “core values” is “Always do the right thing for the right reason.”… And this is just the RIGHT THING to do!

We put cars back on the road every day, it’s what we do, but we really love knowing that when we repair these cars, we put a family back on the road… the road to independence.

We are proud of these moms, who have not been not focused on what they ‘don’t have,’ but rather working with what they ‘do’ have to provide for their families.

We’ve seen these cars really make a difference in these families’ lives, and OUR lives. They’ve been helping as a hand-up, not a handout.”

“We’ve been doing this now for 25 years and it just puts a great big smile on my face when I see our employees still getting excited about revealing their Christmas gift on wheels to families they’ve never met,” Leila said.

To learn more about the HCDE, visit