WOOSTER — Treston Harris easily could have spent the money he made at his summer job on video games and new shoes. Instead, he decided to buy his mom a car.

Treston, 15, participated in the Goodwill Summer Youth Program and worked at the Salvation Army. Before he started the job, he had thought about buying a car for his mom to replace their minivan — their only vehicle — which broke down nearly a year ago.

“I thought it was precious that he was checking out cars for sale across the street from the Salvation Army,” said Jessica Strouse, senior case manager for Goodwill Industries of Wayne & Holmes Counties. “This was the first time I’ve seen something like this. Kids in high school don’t do this.”

The reality of buying a car came from Treston’s uncle, who was selling a 2004 Jeep Liberty for $1,800. The two of them negotiated terms for Harris to make a down payment of half the cost, then make payments in installments every two weeks.

Treston's mother, Laurie Ramsier, had heard her son talk about buying a car for the last year, but she never thought, as a high school kid, he would follow through. She didn’t want him spending all the money on video games, but she was encouraging him to spend the money on extra clothes or shoes that she couldn’t afford to buy him for going back to school. He stuck with the car.

“He wouldn’t stop talking about it,” said Ramsier, who was taken aback when he chose to buy the car. “I wanted to cry. Especially for a teenager without a license, it touched my heart.”

Make no mistake, Harris is anxious to get his driver’s permit. He has five months until he can take the test. In the meantime, his mother told him that he can’t use the fact that he purchased the car to make her take him wherever he wants, whenever he wants.

“It felt really good,” Treston said about buying the car for his mom. “I’m happy to have a car. I can’t wait to get my permit.”

Treston, a sophomore at Wooster High School, joined the Goodwill Pathways to Success youth training program in December after it was suggested by his school counselor. The counselor provided Ramsier with several after-school opportunities to put Treston on the right path, and Goodwill proved the best fit, especially with its variety of incentives.

“I credit Treston’s success to his mom,” Strouse said. “I knew I needed to talk to his mom and she was right there, willing to help.”

Ramsier added, “I told him if he didn’t do well in school or in the program, I had no problem cutting him off.”

Since joining the program, Treston has completed all of the Goodwill “Ready. Set. Work.” online curriculum, career and job training workshops, and has been researching and exploring careers in real estate. Goodwill also can help Treston obtain and pay for his driver’s license when the time comes.

“I’m proud of where he came from. He showed a lot of commitment,” Ramsier said. Treston missed only one day of work due to a funeral and switched shifts once so he could go to an appointment.

Treston is working with his case manager, Rachelle Miller, to find his next part-time job. He hopes to find something close to his home near Beall Avenue.

 

Emily Morgan can be reached at 330-287-1632 or emorgan@the-daily-record.com.