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Teen has the keys to heartfelt giving

15-year-old the driving force in solving a family's transportation problems


Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: ANNE ENDICOTT - Gresham residents Michelle Torres and Dyrl Black suddenly realize they are being gifted with a car from Emiriana Shubert and her son, Trenten West-Shubert. Equally surprised are their children, (from left) Shayla Black, King Black and Malachi Black.

Quick. Name a teenager you know who can keep a secret.

Trenten West-Shubert had one that went way beyond who he was going to ask to the Winter Snowball dance at Gresham High School. His secret would impact the lives of his best friend’s family.

“I just wanted to help a family that’s very special to me,” Trenten said. “It’s awesome to be able to help someone like this.”

So last Thursday night, among a throng of equally unsuspecting folks at Gresham Ford, Trenten and his mom, Emiriana, let the cat out of the bag. Amid happy tears, the pair surprised Michelle Torres and Dyrl Black with keys to the 2010 Ford Focus they had purchased for them. To say that Christmas came early for one local family would be cliche. So would saying there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. But there’s no question that everyone at the dealership that night considered it a privilege to share in the thoughtfulness and generosity inspired by a 15-year-old boy.

Trenten is an All-American-looking kid — blond, easy smile, a football player at Gresham High School with aspirations of someday playing for the University of Oregon Ducks. He and King Black have been good friends since sixth grade, and are both members of the Gophers’ football team.

But times have been hard for King’s parents, Michelle and Dyrl, who moved to Gresham four years ago with their children, King, 14, Shayla, 10 and Malachi, 7. The housing complex where they lived in Southwest Portland had been condemned, and steady employment for Michelle and Dyrl has also been a struggle.

Late last summer, the couple purchased a used car in Portland that was plagued with mechanical issues. It was sitting in front of their home, broken down, when someone stole the tires.

“I asked Michelle what she was going to do without the car,” Emiriana said. “My heart broke when she told me she thought someone must have needed the tires more than she did.” Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: ANNE ENDICOTT - Overcome with emotion, Michelle Torres sits behind the wheel of the 2010 Ford Focus she and her family received Thursday, Nov. 6, at Gresham Ford.

Trenten, after learning of the setback for King’s family, approached his mom. He didn’t have a plan, he said, but figured maybe they could purchase a vehicle for Michelle and Dyrl.

“My father-in-law passed away in August and he left us a gift,” Emiriana said. “We got what we needed, so my husband (Timothy), Trenten and I talked about it and decided that we had the power and responsibility to use our resources for good. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dollar, a million dollars, a warm meal or a word of encouragement. God gives us resources to be used, not hoarded.”

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: ANNE ENDICOTT - Emiriana Shubert (center), with son Trenten and Gresham Ford General Manager Bess Wills, struggled with her emotions as she explained the real reason why she brought Torres and Black to the dealership last Thursday night. Earlier this fall, Emiriana sent emails to two metro area car dealerships she had done business with in the past. She explained her plan, saying, “I want a nice inexpensive car new for this family and I have $12,000 to work with.”

One dealership, she said, never responded. The other turned her down.

Eventually, Emiriana’s email landed on the desk of AJ Baxter, finance and credit specialist for Gresham Ford. Within three hours, Baxter contacted Emiriana, saying the dealership would be happy to work with her.

“We got a chance to help someone who wanted to help someone else,” Baxter said. “When we have an opportunity to be part of the community like this, it feels good knowing we’ve been able to help a neighbor.”

In addition to locating a vehicle that fit Emiriana’s budget, Gresham Ford included a five-year bumper-to-bumper warranty and maintenance plan on the vehicle. The dealership also threw in Weather Floor liners, sturdy hard-crafted floor mats built to withstand the mud and cleats that accompany football players.

So Thursday night, after dinner at The Outback, Emiriana and Trenten stopped by Gresham Ford with Michelle, Dyrl and their children, under the guise of dropping off a canned food donation. The dealership’s showroom floor was stuffed with volunteers folding bags for the upcoming Fill-a-Bag food drive for SnowCap Community Charities.

Outside under a canopy, sporting a large blue bow, was the shiny red Ford Focus.

“We came because we thought we were dropping off food,” Dyrl said, laughing. “We walked right by the car and thought it was a raffle.”

Baxter greeted the families to receive their bags of nonperishables and asked Trenten if he knew what he was going to say.

“When AJ (Baxter) told Trenten to think of a speech, I thought, ‘For bringing in cans?’” said 10-year-old Shayla. “But then they started talking about a car and I went, ‘What?’”

As Emiriana and Trenten struggled with their emotions to explain the real purpose in bringing their friends to Gresham Ford, Michelle suddenly figured it out.

“At first, I was confused,” she said. “But when I saw them start to cry, all I could think was ‘Oh, no.’ God is so good. This is such a huge weight lifted off our shoulders.” Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: ANNE ENDICOTT - Torres hugs Trenten West-Shubert after being handed the keys to a car Trenten and his family purchased for the family. AJ Baxter (back right), finance and credit specialist with Gresham Ford, facilitated the arrangement after receiving an email from Trentens mother, Emiriana.

Gresham Ford General Manager Bess Wills called the occasion “the most spirited way to start the holiday season.” Indeed. But the community is fortunate to claim such a youthful spirit with an equally compassionate family.

“When an opportunity to do good presents itself, we don’t view it so much as a responsibility but more as a privilege to be able to help a fellow human being,” Emiriana said.

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