Local volunteer, bilingual advocate wins refurbished 2004 Subaru | TheUnion.com

Local volunteer, bilingual advocate wins refurbished 2004 Subaru

Cassandra Walker
Sierra Sun

For the fourth year in a row, The Auto & Tire Doctor in Truckee has donated a refurbished vehicle to a deserving individual or family in the North Lake Tahoe-Truckee area.

This year, the recipient of a refurbished 2004 Subaru Outback was Socorro Zarate, who works for Tahoe SAFE Alliance and has been volunteering in his community since he was 14 years old.

Zarate was nominated by an anonymous colleague, who wrote about Zarate's incredible drive and selflessness. His colleague said Zarate is deserving of, and would greatly benefit from, a newer vehicle this winter.

"Socorro started advocating for our community when he was 14 years old … his great energy and passion lead him to represent and be a role model for students in Truckee High School by obtaining many leadership positions and became the sophomore and junior class president and La Raza Club president," his nomination letter states.

The letter included that Zarate participated in high school sports and worked a semi, full-time job to help his family financially.

It explained that despite being diagnosed with a vision disease, Zarate went on to be the first in his family to graduate from higher education at Sierra College and then Chico State University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in psychology.

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As a social work intern, he worked with the North Tahoe Family Resource Center and volunteers as an advisor at the University of Nevada in addition to his work with Tahoe SAFE Alliance in Kings Beach.

Zarate is a bilingual advocate with the alliance's children and residential program, as well as direct services where he helps victims of domestic violence navigate the court system, find housing, and attend parenting classes.

"Winning this car will alleviate the stress of having to cable jump his old car to get to work, and provide services to clients. It will also alleviate the stress of having to buy a new car and will allow him to pay his student loans faster," the nomination letter states.

The anonymous colleague also mentioned what an asset Zarate is to the community.

"In Truckee/Tahoe area there is a huge need for bilingual therapists in the mental health field and Socorro is saving as much money as he can to continue his education to become a bilingual therapist and continue to serve our community. Therefore, I truly believe that this young man deserves this car, it will be a huge help and surprise for him," the nomination letter states.

And a huge surprise it was. On Tuesday, Dec. 19, The Auto & Tire Doctor owner and representatives paid a visit to Tahoe SAFE Alliance with Santa Claus, a bouquet of balloons and a dream come true for Zarate.

"I can't explain how happy I feel. I feel so blessed," said Zarate after being handed the keys to his new car.

His colleagues were in a work meeting when they were notified that they were being requested in the parking lot. That's when the Auto Doctor's team of merry elves drove up and let Zarate know that he was the owner of the Subaru, as well as donated gas cards, a AAA membership, car detailing, and more from local community businesses.

Thanks to this effort by The Auto & Tire Dr., FHP Automotive in Tahoe City was inspired to join in on the cause.

FHP's owner, William Fisher, said his family will be donating their Christmas this year, that they've adopted two families to purchase everything they'll need for a Christmas celebration and are also donating a second vehicle to the runner-up winner of the car giveaway.

"We are fine. We have what we need and we want to give back. This is like our five-year anniversary of being in business. I guess you could say, and my family wants to donate our gifts to the community this year and give back to the people who've given us everything," Fisher said.

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at cwalker@sierrasun.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.

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The Auto & Tire Doctor’s mission is to provide their customers with friendly, professional ant timely service, and to exceed customer’s expectations. They host an array of campaigns to give back to the community including this year’s car giveaway. Visit http://www.theautoandtiredoctor.com” target=”_blank”>class=”Hyperlink”>http://www.theautoandtiredoctor.com for more.

FHP Automotive is A.S.E. and B.A.R. Certified and services foreign and domestic cars, they specialize in everything from muscle to modern vehicles and say they love Jeeps. The caring family owners are contributing a second vehicle to a community member this holiday season. Visit http://www.bit.ly/2BGkXZe” target=”_blank”>class=”Hyperlink”>http://www.bit.ly/2BGkXZe for more.