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Veteran Receives Vehicle Refurbished by Minuteman High School Students Through Second Chance Cars

Group Shot - Second Chance Auto Ceremony

Minuteman High School automotive students and instructors pose for a photo with Aris Lopez, a Coast Guard veteran who received a 2004 Volkswagen Beetle that was refurbished by the students in recent weeks. Minuteman students are repairing used cars for veterans through a collaboration with Second Chance Cars. (Minuteman Photo)

On Tuesday, February 26, 2020, Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School and Second Chance Cars held a ceremony to award a U.S. Coast Guard veteran a 2004 Volkswagen Beetle that the school’s automotive technology students refurbished in recent weeks. The event was covered by local news outlets WBZ-TV, WCVB-TV, and Wicked Local Lexington.

The veteran, Aris Lopez, 31, of Haverhill, is a single father of two who had been riding his bicycle 13 miles each way to work or paying for rides from Uber or Lyft. It’s the first time he’s owned a car, which he can also use to visit his children who live in New Hampshire.

“I’m so grateful,” Lopez said. “It was 26 miles a day and a five-day work week. It takes a toll and it starts to add up. To not do that commute in the way that I had to, it takes a load off.”

Minuteman’s automotive students repair between 150 and 200 vehicles for the public each year in the school’s auto shop, where the ceremony was held. In the past year, they have also refurbished three vehicles that were donated to Second Chance Cars, which provides autos at low-cost to veterans and people recently released from prison.

“I’m proud of our students for identifying their passion, building important skills around it, and then using those skills to help others,” said Dr. Edward A. Bouquillon, Superintendent-Director of Minuteman. “As a school that specializes in career and technical education, we are not only filling the skills gap but educating students who provide real-world contributions to their communities.”

Student Photo of Second Chance Cars Event

Aris Lopez, 31, sits in his Volkswagen as Minuteman automotive students look on. (Photo By Emma Leone '20)


The 2004 Volkswagen had traveled about 27,000 miles when it was donated to Second Chance Cars by a 93-year-old Newton woman who no longer wished to drive. The Minuteman students conducted numerous safety checks on the vehicle, along with an oil change, and removed, replaced, and re-sealed an oil pan.

Students have previously conducted more complicated repairs on vehicles for Second Chance, which included replacing brakes and air conditioning compression units. In one instance recently, the students refurbished a van that was donated to a veteran who is a single mother of six children.

“Second Chance Cars provides veterans and returning citizens affordable cars so they can get to work. What makes our work possible is our partnership with Minuteman and other vocational-technical schools,” said Dan Holin, Executive Director of Second Chance Cars. “Collaborating with us is a wonderful opportunity for high school students to work on their mechanical skills and make a difference in the lives of others. We are very thankful for the collaboration with Minuteman High School and the ongoing support of the students, faculty, and staff.”

The Minuteman student’s automotive instructors are Donald Melanson and John Primpas.