|Repair shop comes up aces for Linda Gurney
Well-timed circumstances allow A.C.E. Automotive’s Brian Faulconer to donate car to family in desperate need of help
Last Tuesday, as Brian Faulconer of ACE Automotive buzzes between the front office, the garage and setting up the barbeque for a lunch to celebrate the last day of a long-time employee, Linda Gurney sits in the office waiting room. Her demeanor is calm, hands folded and a warm smile on her face, but she is on the edge of her seat on the sagging couch. Amongst the other buzz of the shop, it is Gurney’s situation that might be most exciting: Faulconer is donating to her a newly renovated car.
Needing more than just a car
While receiving a car free of cost will always be reason to celebrate, being given this car is especially exciting for Gurney. Currently, she not only finds herself without a car, but also homeless, staying in the Santa Rosa Catholic Charities Homeless Shelter.
“It’s just a blessing,” said Gurney, “A huge, huge blessing. I don’t even know how to thank everybody enough.”
Gurney is also the single mother of two boys, Billy, 13 and Zachary, 11, who attend school at Technology Middle School in Rohnert Park. She recently discovered that her older son is epileptic, as well as autistic.
After leaving their previous home quickly, the family did not have many options and turned to live in Gurney’s car for a short time. The car was old, unreliable and literally falling apart, but it was because of this reason she met Faulconer. Her car had a bolt fall into the engine, which Faulconer replaced with little effort and did not even ask for payment.
“He’s an honest mechanic who will always help you out,” said Gurney. “He’s just amazing.”
Gurney continued to return to ACE Automotive for this reason when her car continued to fail, until finally even Faulconer had to admit it was beyond repair.
Thankfully, the death of her car happened directly after she and her boys moved into the shelter and were not relying on the vehicle for inhabitance.
Life without a car is difficult at best most times. Gurney’s children have to take an extra hour getting to school on time and back again, two hours they would have normally reserved for homework time. There are doctor appointments to go to, friends’ houses to visit and teachers to meet with.
Help from father
“I used to think that taking the bus was the easier way to get around,” said Gurney. “You don’t worry about traffic or driving. It’s expensive, though.”
Gurney’s recently retired father stepped in and offered her a sum of money intended for a new car. It wasn’t much, said Gurney, but it would be enough to buy at least a running car, and she was extremely grateful. The only condition was that Gurney ask Faulconer to inspect any car she had in mind, to approve its reliability.
Around this exact time, Ryan Connelly, a longtime customer of Faulconer and a complete stranger to Gurney, was having car problems of his own. According to Connelly, his Ford Escape died while on his commute home to Rohnert Park from his work in Marin County. He promptly took it in to ACE for inspection and neither he nor Faulconer were too pleased with the results.
The expense of the repair work was a little too high for Connelly, and Faulconer thought the car was too much in otherwise workable condition to be scrapped, as tends to happen in such situations. But when Connelly offered Faulconer the car, he instantly knew he could put it towards a cause, thinking quickly of Gurney.
The timely phone call
The only problem was he did not remember her name and had absolutely no way of contacting her.
But, remember, Gurney had made a pact to call a mechanic when she found a car she wanted to buy and she had found a car. So, she called Faulconer, asking for his opinion.
She might have been bracing for a negative reaction, but she was not anticipating him to tell her not to buy the car because he was going to offer her one for free.
“I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason,” said Gurney.
Faulconer fixed up the car using his own means and the help of some generous similar-minded auto specialists, like the team at Les Schwab Tire, who donated brand new tires for the cause.
“I can’t reiterate enough it takes a team…I have a great team of guys here,” said Faulconer. “And Rohnert Park Transmission did 50 percent of the work…I couldn’t have shouldered the price (without them).”
Faulconer’s first donation
This is the first time Faulconer has donated a car to someone. Usually, when customers condemn their cars and offer them to him, he refuses because repairs would simply cost too much. The opportunity to help Gurney simply presented itself, though, and Faulconer said it felt like fate.
“I wish I could do it more,” said Faulconer. “It feels good. I love helping people, it’s what I do everyday, but this goes above and beyond (what I usually do in the shop).”
With the money Gurney saved by not purchasing a car, she renewed her driver’s license and bought insurance. Faulconer told her last Friday he was planning on giving her the car and by the following Tuesday, she couldn’t stop stating how excited and thankful she and her sons were to finally be off the bus and in a car of their own.