Stepping up and making a difference

On the morning of July 2, Alice Edmonds poured an entire bottle of power steering fluid into her leaky 1991 Chrysler New Yorker. She ran some errands that morning and when Edmonds pulled into Regal Car Sales and Credit later that day, the power steering fluid was already on empty.

This was not a rare occurrence for her car. It ate oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and a whole lot of gas. Not to mention the busted window and lack of working headlights.

None of this was new to Edmonds, but on July 2 when she pulled the car into Regal Car Sales and Credit, 3110 S. Broadway in Wichita, she happily left that reality behind her.

Regal donated a 2004 Ford Taurus to Edmonds who has struggled get things in order for her family. An unreliable, and even dangerous, car only added to the situation. Edmonds had been stranded several times and was not comfortable taking the car on any major highway.

“I wasn’t able to drive it at night,” said Edmonds of her old car. “I had to race to be home before the sun went down. If something would have happened to my kids when we were at home at night, I would have had to call family or call an ambulance to get help.”

Edmonds, an unemployed single mother of two, happily accepted the white car with the big red bow and is excited for the possibilities it brings along with it.

“I’m hoping that this will do a lot for my family,” said Edmonds. “I think it will open a lot of doors not having to worry about a car that’s not reliable.”

Making a difference

Sometimes a little help goes a long way and that’s what Regal Car Sales and Credit is counting on. The car dealership, owned by Robert Mulkey, has 13 locations across Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas.

Employees say Mulkey has encouraged each of them to be involved in their communities and to be aware of the needs around them. When an email came across her desk from a lady asking for help, Mary Kay Humerickhouse, marketing director for the dealership, decided to look into it.

Edmonds had emailed several dozen car dealerships in the Wichita area asking for help. She explained that she had a son with disabilities, a limited income and a car that just wasn’t helping things.

“I emailed her back telling her that Regal Car Sales and Credit is a buy-here, pay-here used car dealership and many people come to us because they can’t get a vehicle anywhere else,” said Humerickhouse. “We realize there are those people who have nowhere to turn and no way to purchase a vehicle, but they can’t do without one.”

Humerickhouse told Edmonds that she would talk to Mulkey and see what they could do. After getting more details from Edmonds, Humerickhouse gave Edmonds an answer.

“We felt that she could use our help and in doing so, we’re hoping that maybe this can start a chain of kindness for her,” said Humerickhouse. “Hopefully this will help her help herself as far as having a better life for herself and her kids. Hopefully this will help her to be able to do what she can to get a job and raise her kids to be responsible citizens as well.”

Edmonds was at the library using the internet when she saw the email saying that Mulkey and Regal Car Sales and Credit were going to donate a car to her family.

“I wanted to jump up and down,” said Edmonds. “But I was at the library, so I couldn’t.”

Regal Car Sales and Credit has donated cars, time, sponsorship and more in the past.

“We realize that things happen to people in our communities,” said Mulkey. “Obviously we can’t run around giving away cars all the time, but if we see something out there, if we see a need, we want to do something.”

Extending the help one step further

As an added help, Dress for Success, 1422 N. High Street, was contacted to help Edmonds be prepared to find a job.

Dress for Success, a local affiliate of the national non-profit organization, starts its clients off with an interview outfit, makeup, even a haircut to get women ready for the job search.

“The women are assisted by volunteer personal shoppers who help them pick out clothes that are appropriate and look best on them,” said Pat Jones of Dress for Success.

Dress for Success operates thanks to donations of clothing, hose, shoes and more. The High Street location has a room full of clothes for all sizes and the women referred to the group are taken on a personal shopping trip.

Dress for Success also offers a program that helps the women be successful in the workforce by teaching interviewing skills, networking, presentation skills and more. There is a career center on site that is available for working on resumes, looking for jobs online as well.

After a client finds a job, they can come back and pick out an employment outfit.

“It’s kind of a reward for getting a job,” said Jones. “They’re also invited to join a professional women’s group that meets every month.”

Sessions on job retention, balancing life, financial issues and more are also offered to the women.

“We help them through the whole process,” said Jones. “As long as they need us, we’re here.”

Dress for Success takes donations at their building at 1422 N. High on Mondays and all Miller’s Dry Cleaners accept donations on any day of the week. To learn more about the organization and to see what donations are needed, go to www.dressforsuccess.org/wichita.

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