Hero: Ray Bernard
Since December 2015, Ray Bernard of Ray’s Certified Auto in Moorhead has given away seven vehicles to the community.
“He builds relationships and gives back to the community instead of just taking,” Cheryl Samuelson says.
Bernard uses his business to improve people’s lives through his annual giveaways. Although it started just as “holiday” giveaway, Bernard regularly donates vehicles to anyone who could benefit greatly from having a reliable vehicle.
It all started in December 2015 when Bernard purchased a Saturn to restore. He then tapped into his relationships within the community to find a “worthy recipient.” He asked others to nominate people by sending emails or letters.
“We read a lot of stories that brought tears to our eyes. It was a difficult decision picking one person,” Ray’s wife, Peggy Bernard says.
The first year Peggy and Ray received about 75 nominations from the community. With the help of friends, family and employees, Bernard narrowed it down to two contenders.
“In December 2015, we had a tie. Ray felt so bad – he said ‘I wish we had two cars to give away.’ Shortly after we gave the first car away a second car was donated and Ray gave it to the other deserving person,” Peggy Bernard says.
Jeff Klonowski, recipient of the Saturn in 2015, donated his vehicle with the hope that it could be fixed and given to another deserving person.
“It’s a blessing,” Klonowski says. “It’s a bigger blessing than the original blessing we got when Ray gave us the Saturn at Christmas time.”
In March 2016, Bernard donated a 1995 Chevrolet Lumina to the 20-year-old son of Marcus Schumacher, who died after barricading himself in his house during a standoff with Fargo police.
Cheryl Samuelson’s daughter Nicole received a van when she was selected in the second annual Christmas car giveaway.
“My eldest daughter this past Christmas received the donated van that Bernard had fixed up,” Samuelson says. “She is newly divorced after dealing with an alcoholic spouse for over 10 years. It really was Christmas miracle for her family!”
Bernard’s commitment to his community is best described in his own words.
“I like when I can take care of people’s problems. That’s just my personality, I guess. I understand how systems in cars work so it’s easy for me,” Bernard says.
Learn more about Ray’s Certified Auto online at rayscertifiedautorepair.com.