COLUMBUS (WCMH) – When Richard Fountain’s case manager first asked if he was interested in getting a car, the military veteran said he never expected what he received on Thursday.
“I had no idea it was going to be something this nice, to be honest with you,” Fountain said. “I thought it was going to be something a little less, less—how should I say—less expensive.”
Fountain, who served in the U.S. Navy in California from 1983 to 1987, said he fell on hard times a few months ago when he moved back to his hometown of Columbus from New York City.
“I needed help,” Fountain said. “I was homeless, I was without money and a place to live, without a vehicle.”
His case manager at Veterans & Families FIRST contacted him to ask if he was interested in a car. Fountain, who was taking the bus to work, said he was. When he got a photo of the vehicle, though, Fountain said he was “speechless.”
The 2008 Dodge Caravan was refurbished over the course of the last school year by collision repair students at Fort Hayes Career Center.
Cameron Miller, a junior, was there on Thursday as Fountain was presented with his refurbished van in the parking lot at Fort Hayes.
Miller described how students touched up nicks on the bumper and hood, repaired plastic and repainted several areas of the car. While students worked on a number of other projects throughout the year, Miller said this one was “special” and “different.”
“This is going out to help someone,” Miller said. “This is going to be donated to someone who needs it. In this case, it’s fitting. It was donated to a veteran and this was done on a former military base.”
Fountain said he had worked in sales for the past 20 years, including car sales, and noted that he used to sell Dodge Caravans.
“Now, I’m looking at one that’s for me, and it’s funny how things have come full circle,” Fountain said.
Fountain thanked State Farm Insurance, Volunteers of America and other organizations for their help with the van and helping him get back on his feet.
“Me as a spiritual person, I owe everything to God in my life,” Fountain said. “These people have definitely been vessels for that.”
Despite what he’s faced so far, Fountain remains positive about his future.
“Today’s been a wonderful day for me, so I’m very blessed, very humbled by that,” Fountain said.