PHOENIX — Employees at the Phoenix Fire Department are raising funds to help purchase a wheelchair-accessible van for a coworker whose vehicle broke down.
For 20 years, Abel Parra has been working at the Fire Prevention Section as a customer service clerk.
Throughout the years he’s had several cars, but in 2011 he purchased a 1984 Ford Econoline van with a wheelchair lift.
Parra said he fixed up the van, but because of its age, it would often give him trouble. The van would leave him stranded or sweating in the middle of the summer when the AC would malfunction.
“I’ve been putting a lot of money into it, until finally recently I thought I had fixed one problem but then the engine died,” said Parra.
The van had to be retired in September. Since then, Parra has been using public transportation to get around. Often taking a bus to the light rail and the light rail to work, adding extra hours of travel to his day.
When Parra’s supervisor LaNette McKinney heard what happened to his vehicle, she stepped in to help.
McKinney connected with hire-ups at the department, who reached out to auto dealerships to get him a new van through special programs.
“The big problem we are having is nobody has any inventory, we’re unable to get some of these people and dealerships that have these programs to help because they just physically don’t have inventory and they’re not going to get any for a while,” McKinney said.
McKinney then turned to GoFundMe and created an account to raise the funds to help purchase a reliable used van for Parra, and if possible, a new one.
“He really deserves this and I’m just grateful and thankful for any support that we can get from anyone,” she added.
The attention and care shown by his coworkers is something Parra said he will hold dear to his heart as he’s hopeful he will soon have a vehicle that allows him to be mobile and independent.
“I’m blessed to work here, I’m proud working here,” Parra said. “They support me and obviously they care, I’m thankful.”
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