SCC student receives vehicle through St. Mark’s program

  • Hillary Duggan and Van
    Larry Haughton and Hillary Duggan stand in front of Duggan's 1996 Dodge Caravan.
  • Hillary Duggan in Van
    Hillary Duggan discusses features on the van with Larry Haughton.

Hillary Duggan recently was overcome with emotion as she was given the keys to a 1996 Dodge Caravan through a program created by St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Lincoln.

“This is absolutely amazing,” said Duggan, a student in Southeast Community College’s Human Services program. “This shows me that humanity is still good and that people have faith in me.”

Duggan’s life changed dramatically on Aug. 31 when she was physically assaulted by her then-fiancé.

“I had a house, a car, all of it,” she said. “Then I had a domestic violence situation.”

Friends gave Duggan countless rides to SCC’s Lincoln Campus so she could continue her studies, and she occasionally utilized public transportation.

Dave Sonenberg, SCC’s dean of student services/director of financial aid, identified Duggan as an excellent candidate to receive the vehicle.

“I do some investigating and interview the students,” Sonenberg said. “You don’t have to look very far to find students who need this type of help.”

The van was donated to St. Mark’s in August, said Larry Haughton, who heads St. Mark’s “Transportation for Humanity” program, which was created in 2005.

“We replaced the battery, and the tires are pretty new,” said Haughton, a 1964 graduate of the auto body program at SCC’s Milford Campus. “It’s had one owner, and it has 125,000 miles on it.”

St. Mark’s, which holds a dealer’s license, receives occasional donations of vehicles that require little or no repairs. The vehicles are fixed and then given free of charge to people in the community who have demonstrated a need for reliable transportation but cannot afford it.

Duggan’s new ride includes some amenities such as built-in child seats, a TV/VCR and a stereo system.

Duggan was born in Amarillo, Texas, but moved to Lincoln with her family at age 6. She said SCC is a great fit for her.

“I had planned to transfer to Nebraska Wesleyan, and then this (assault) happened,” she said. “SCC was just practical for me. My teachers and fellow students have helped me a lot with my situation. Everybody at SCC has surrounded me with love.”

Duggan, who had a 4.0 grade-point average leading up to the Summer Quarter, is scheduled to graduate in September 2014. She said she hopes to one day earn a bachelor’s degree in social work.

“I hope to be able to help people handle situations similar to mine,” Duggan said. “I want to give back because people have been so good to me.”

Duggan said her experience in foster care helped shape her goal of helping people.

“Because I was in the foster care system, I know what it’s like to be one of those children, and I also know how hard it was for me not having a good caseworker who actually cared for me,” she said. “Because I grew up in the system, I know how it works, and I know how hard it is to find a good social worker. There were two out of the more than 70 case workers that made an impact on my life. I am striving to become one of the two.

“I just want to help people. There is such a need in so many different areas with so many different populations. All I want to do is help change on person’s life, and be a good mom.”

Recipients of vehicles are required to carry liability insurance on the vehicle, have a valid driver’s license and have the ability to pay all costs associated with registering the vehicle. Vehicles are presented “as-is” and without warranty. To be considered, people are required to complete and submit a form to St. Mark’s.

Anyone with a vehicle they would like to contribute, or who knows of a deserving family in need of one, is asked to contact Shirley Matoush, administrative assistant at St. Mark’s, at 402-489-8885.

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For more information contact:
Stu Osterthun
Administrative Director of Public Information and Marketing
402-323-3401
sosterthun@southeast.edu