Daystar car donation for education 0828

Thanks to the human angels in Citrus County, Sierra Goodwin, center, now has a car. The Lecanto High graduate will no longer rely on a bicycle or friends to get to work, and she will now be able to drive to college classes. Joe Marteski, left, and Anthony Kopka of Daystar Life Center, right, facilitated the generosity of those who made this gift possible.

I’ve got it good at Daystar Life Center of Citrus County because of our employees, volunteers and donors. They all make my job as executive director easier as we try to help people in need.

And then there are times when I just happen to be at the right place at the right time to help bring tremendous joy to someone’s life. That’s when I really love my job.

Last week was such a time. I felt like a game show host, because I wanted to say,

“Sierra, come on down. Here are the keys to your very first car.”

Sierra Goodwin lives in Homosassa. She graduated this year from Lecanto High School and received a four-year Bennett Trust Scholarship, which she will use to earn a college degree in education.

Life has been hard for Sierra, but with the help of friends and people in our community she has been able to get through each hardship. Because of her personal capabilities and her determination to set a path that will lead to success, people have either provided or referred her to the resources she has needed.

Her great need since graduation has been a car, for which she was saving while working at a fast-food restaurant. However, one of her many human angels was working on it for her and that’s when Daystar became a part of the story.

Joe Marteski is a retired salesman, but he never sold cars. Yet, he has helped financially strapped college-bound students get good used cars. He does this through a network of kindhearted people he has met since he dove head first into community service after moving to Citrus County.

Joe and I became acquainted with one another in the pages of the Chronicle and through social media. Once Joe emailed to ask if Daystar had — what else? — a car. Although we did, I told him that when a vehicle or boat is donated to Daystar, we prefer to re-sell it, because it is usually a significant boost to our revenue stream. The re-sale enables us to provide more help to people in other ways.

Finally, Joe and I met at Daystar about a month ago when he brought a young mother who had just enrolled in nursing school and needed some help to establish her new household. Then two weeks ago, Joe asked again if Daystar had a car, but we didn’t.

A day later, United Way referred a lady who had a 2006 Honda CR-V to donate. She told me she wanted to help someone in need and wanted to remain anonymous. When she said she would like to have the car given away for free, I knew who to call before I even saw the car.

While it had high mileage, the owner had obviously maintained the car meticulously. If I hadn’t already promised the car to Joe, I probably would have kept it for Daystar to use instead of our big truck to pick up small donations and supplies for our own needs.

When I asked Joe about the student he had in mind for the car, I learned that the social worker at Lecanto High School, Tomas Gonzales, had helped Sierra and highly recommended her. The policy at Daystar is to verify needs, but since I know Tomas from serving together on a behavioral health committee, his judgment was all we needed. So, we had the car re-titled to Daystar and I contacted Joe to tell Sierra, “Come on down!”

It’s just another day of people working together to make Citrus County a caring and cooperative community; one more story of human angels, the schools and charitable organizations coming together to lift others who want to make improvements in their lives that will lead to greater success.

Visit Daystar anytime between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. We are located at 6751 W. Gulf-to-Lake Highway in Crystal River. For more information, call us at 352-795-8668 or go to