Oakland teen surprised with new car as he heads off to college
OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - For most of us, the sight of a car on a tow truck is the last thing you want to see. But on this day, the car wasn't being towed away but delivered.
"My heart's dropped. This is a beautiful gift," said Castlemont High School senior Denzel Mabry.
It's more like a reward for good behavior. Mabry is part of the Oakland police department's "OK" or "Our Kids" mentoring program. It focuses on building relationships with African American males 12 to 18 years old, giving them a positive male role model to help them stay on track.
"If I wasn't in the program. I feel like I'd be roaming the streets doing something that I wasn't supposed to be doing," said Mabry.
"They go through a lot of trauma, a lot of violence. They struggle a lot. Denzel lost his mother," said Oakland Police Officer Robert Smith.
Mabry was only two years old when his mom died and was raised by his grandparents.
"His mother was diagnosed with cancer six months after he was born," said his grandmother Vertilee Stone.
When Mabry was in sixth grade he asked to join the OK program. That same year he was matched with now-retired Oakland police officer Richard Williams.
"I'm just holding back right now. This is lovely to see that he still has the support of his grandparents and his family out here and the support of the officers and the department," said Williams.
Mabry's family is thankful for the program. Which also focuses on impacting lives, influencing change and investing in futures. All students involved must maintain a two-point five-grade point average and be well-rounded students. In return, they're rewarded for doing well academically and being well-rounded students.
"Far too many times we see young men like him who are doing exceptionally good and not rewarded. It's extremely good to see him get rewarded for his success," said Williams.
The OK program partnered with auto plus towing to deliver the 2015 Mazda to Mabry.
"We put tires, serviced it, painted it, cleaned it. Whatever it needed," said Auto Plus Towing owner Donnie Robinson.
Both groups hope this car will be a way to pay it forward and help the young man who's off to college next fall with a wrestling scholarship.
"I'm just excited. I'm happy for Denzel, I'm happy we were able to be a blessing not only in his life but his grandparent's life," said Smith.