Pictured: Last year’s winner of  “Wheels to Shine,” Cheyanne Dominguez (center) with JR and Rita Luna. Photo submitted. 

by Kimberly Rivers

krivers@timespublications.com

Gerardo “JR” Luna of Oxnard has a goal of positively changing the lives of 25 local people by giving them a car.

“If we can give a car away every year, and we’re in business for another 25 years, I can change 25 lives. That’s pretty impactful,” said Luna. He and his wife, Rita, own Concours Motors and Asian AutoTech in Ventura. This will be the third year they are seeking nominations from the community for a deserving person who could really use a dependable car. Luna and his team will give away a refurbished car to the selected person on Dec.7.

Luna started his Wheels-to-Shine program in 2017. He and his team purchased a 2000 Volkswagon Golf and in their spare time restored it to like-new condition. A team of volunteers from the community reviews all of the nominations and selects as the winner an outstanding person who is giving back to their community, and whose life would be made easier by a reliable vehicle.

The first winner, Marina Limon Porter, was nominated 25 times by Ventura residents. She is a hard-working mother who volunteers at multiple nonprofit organizations in the area. The car not only helped her in work as a local insurance agent, but in her volunteer work with Step Up Ventura, a local nonprofit organization that provides vital services to children up to five years old who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Luna’s team chose Limon Porter because “of her tireless community outreach work. Giving her the car helped her give more, creating a trickle-down effect of good deeds,” said Luna.

In 2018 the team worked their magic on a 2000 Volkswagon Beetle, which was given to Cheyanne Dominguez. She only received one nomination, “but it was clear and compelling.” Dominguez’s father, Oscar, was killed, a victim of homicide, when she was just 20 years old. When her mother later became disable, Dominguez became her caretaker. The car gave her the flexibility to get to classes and continue to pursue a career in government.

“Cheyenne dedicates a tremendous amount of time helping others. She is a leader at her church’s youth group on Tuesday nights,” Luna said. She mentors middle school and high school girls and serves the homeless meals she helps prepare at Catholic Charities on Ventura Avenue. Last year she was part of a team that raised money to travel to Uganda to distribute handmade reusable feminine hygiene products to girls and young women.

This year the Concours Motors team has refurbished a 2004 Mercedes-Benz donated by one of their customers. “We are looking for an exceptional person who will use the car to change their lives and improve their community,” said Luna.

The car will be awarded on Dec. 7, so get your nominations in now at: wheelstoshine.org/nominate/