Brand-new mom Gennisha Windham lives right behind the Walmart near Irvington and works full-time at the Walmart on South 72nd Street.
It takes about 45 minutes by bus to get to her job, the 19-year-old said, and she hasn't worked there long enough to ask for a transfer to the closer store.
Sometimes she's at work until nearly midnight, when the buses aren't running. If she can't find a ride, she walks home six miles in the dark. It takes about three hours.
She'll get that time back in the days ahead. She received a rebuilt 2009 Chevy Cobalt on Thursday at the Women's Fund of Omaha's annual luncheon. Windham is the fourth Omahan to get a vehicle in the National Auto Body Council's Recycled Rides program.
State Farm Insurance donated a car that was totaled in an April accident, and Don and Ron's CARSTAR Shop coordinated the repairs. Several other local businesses and organizations donated everything necessary to rebuild the car, from parts to paint. Technicians at the shop repaired it on their own time.
“It means a lot to me that so many people went out of their way to help me,” Windham said in an interview before the presentation. “I'm really grateful. Saying thank you isn't enough.”
Nonprofit agencies nominate clients for the program, and the Women's Fund grants committee chooses the winner. The panel considered eight women this year.
Windham participates in the parenting program at the North Omaha Center for Healthy Families through Lutheran Family Services, the agency that nominated her.
In a press release, representatives at Lutheran Family Services said they were impressed with her work ethic, her care for her siblings and her one-month old son, Doanzell, her willingness to seek help and her desire to attend college.
She returned to work as a Walmart cashier just four days after giving birth.
A 2012 graduate of Northwest High School, Windham was enrolled in the certified nurse assistant program at Metropolitan Community College before she became pregnant. She plans to re-enroll soon with the eventual goal of becoming a registered nurse.
In a video shown at the luncheon, Windham said that when she was growing up, her family often faced utility shut-offs and evictions. She wants to provide a different childhood for Doanzell.
“The car will help a lot. I just want to be somebody my son can be proud of, and do everything I can so that he can have a good life.”