Natalie Mott walked into the Fairfield location of Christian Brothers Automotive on Tuesday afternoon thinking she had been selected for free car maintenance for her work in the community. She left that evening with a brand new 2017 Toyota Corolla SE.
Shop owner Jeremy Robertson helped raise more than $22,000 to make the purchase after meeting Mott, who moved to Houston when she lost everything in Hurricane Katrina.
Robertson told Mott that other local Christian Brothers Automotive partners contributed money to repair the car she had driven since 1998. The car had nearly 300,000 miles on it and was no longer safe to drive, he said.
“But she didn’t let that stop her, and she didn’t let that steal her joy,” Robertson said. “She relied on God to get her where she needed to be.”
Inspired by her work at Methodist West Hospital in Katy and volunteer ministry to underprivileged women in her community, Robertson collaborated with Advance Auto Parts, Chris Draper of Allstate, XL Parts, BG Fluids and other businesses to provide a $1,500 gas gift card, $1,200 for a year of auto insurance and three years of maintenance in addition to the new car.
Mott said the car would make her feel safer and help her serve more individuals in her community. Her 18-year-old daughter can learn from the experience too, she said.
“It’s just been the two of us for 18 years now, so seeing how God provided for us will really speak to her heart,” Mott said. “Throughout all the hard times, you just keep going. Your calling doesn’t have to take the sideline because of your circumstances.”
After Hurricane Katrina, Mott and her daughter found refuge in Houston in 2005, thinking they would not be in town long. Because the hotels were all booked, the two lived out of her car and in shelters until she was able to find full-time work again.
A local couple provided an apartment for the family in Katy, and Mott said she made the tough decision not to return to New Orleans.
“I had never been outside the area we were in, so it was all new for me,” Mott said. “It’s been almost 12 years, and we haven’t left the area.”
When Mott is not helping behind the scenes at Bayou City Fellowship in Houston or working as a medical administrator at Houston Methodist West Hospital, she serves a low-income apartment ministry, single mothers, abused women, at-risk teenage girls and anyone else who needs help working through loss and hardship.
“I don’t believe that you just serve ministry in your church,” she said. “I love being involved in people’s real lives, meeting real needs. I don’t have a lot, but I do believe in reaching out to other resources and saying, ‘How can I make an impact in someone’s life?’”