A Fresno, California community is rallying together to buy a new set of wheels for a woman they think deserves it most.
Monica “Momo” Brewer is an instructional aide at Nelson Elementary School, but to her students, she’s so much more.
“I have a lot jobs,” Brewer, nicknamed “Miss Momo” by all her students, told ABC News.
She certainly wears many hats, including being a coach, counselor and a mentor to her kids. But another important job she’s taken on is chauffeur, often driving kids to their games, rehearsals, tournaments and events when they need it.
“She gives them rides to their practices, their games, out-of-town tournaments, she even hauls gear and equipment,” Brewer’s sister, Jackie Crawford, explained. “I’ve seen her bring uniforms home and wash them personally. She does so much for those kids. She’s just so selfless.”
However in a recent inspection, Brewer’s car didn’t meet smog requirements. She didn’t know what to do because her car, a 1997 Geo Prism with more than 220,000 miles on it, is her lifeline, and often the lifeline of many of her students.
“I don’t have the money to get a brand new car. That was the worry when it didn’t pass code,” she explained.
Not only that, the parts on her car are so outdated they cannot even be purchased anymore.
“The gentleman at Pep Boys said, ‘We can’t find any of these parts. We found all the ‘99 parts, the last year they made the Geo Prism, but they changed two pieces. They don’t even look alike. They won’t fit.’”
Brewer tried searching online and hunting through junk yards to no avail. A new car was her only option, but she didn’t have the means to make that happen.
That’s when her sister set up a surprise GoFundMe page for her with a goal of $14,000 to put toward a new set of wheels.
“When Monica first told me about her situation I knew I wanted to help her in some way, but I wasn’t sure how I could help because she’d just have to get a new vehicle,” said Crawford. “I knew I wasn’t the only one who wanted to help either, so I remembered a relative who had set up a GoFundMe page before. The original goal was $14,000 and obviously it went way above and beyond our expectations.”
That goal was exceeded within two days, and now has skyrocketed to nearly $25,000.
“This is just crazy,” Crawford said. “The love has just been pouring in ever since.”
Brewer had no idea any of this was happening, however.
“At first I didn’t tell her because I knew she’d try to stop me,” her sister explained.
And she’s right. Brewer first caught wind something odd was going on while she was coaching a basketball game and her phone kept buzzing uncontrollably.
“My phone is linked to my Facebook, so when the kids were writing how much they loved me and all this stuff, my phone just kept beeping and beeping and beeping that at half time I looked at it and was thinking, ‘What is going on?,’” she recalled. “One of my former kids finally called and said, ‘Do you know what is happening? I just donated to your fund.’ And I said, ‘What fund?’”
Brewer thought he was joking, but now the jig is up.
“I’m a little overwhelmed,” she said. “This all just seems really crazy.”
Although she’ll miss her beloved Geo Prism and all the memories they’ve shared, she’s excited to be better equipped to continue transporting her students.
“I’ve been salivating over the Chevy Cruze. It’s the most like the one I have now, I just could never afford it,” she said. “People think I should get a bigger car, but I need one that I can maintain.”
Brewer’s registration expires on March 20 so she’s hoping to get her new set of wheels by the end of this month.
“I almost have no words. There are no words,” she explained, humbled by everyone’s generosity. “This entire community that I’ve known the last 27 years-- I truly feel blessed and honored to know such great people. I don’t like all this attention.”