When he lived in Iraq, 25-year-old Hamza Albahadily worked for the United States in the Green Zone in Baghdad, dealing with laundry and occasionally alternating to drive trucks in a convoy.
Before emigrating to the U.S., Albahadily and his wife, Nathera and Alshemry faced a series of horrific incidents. While driving in a convoy, Albahadily was injured by shrapnel during an attack. Alshemry dealt with the death of her father, who died of a heart attack, and her brother, killed in an insurgent attack.
The final straw for the family occurred when Albahadily's life was threatened after he and his wife discovered an envelope shoved under the door that contained a bullet and a message instructing Albahadily to leave his home.
Albahadily and his family now reside in Bryn Mawr, where they've lived for the last two years. A slight language barrier aside, the family's hurdles such as employment and other necessary resources have been resolved with the help of fellow Bryn Mawr residents, who recently nominated Albahdily and his family for the "Surprise Pit Crew" contest of mobile tire installation business, TireVan.
Albahadily's family was one of two contest winners receiving a free installation of new tires.
TireVan sent out Paul Garay, a tire technician, out to Albahadily's home on Dec. 12, where he switched the trodden tires for brand new ones.
TireVan Corporate Development Manager Taran Sodhi and supportive community members also showed up to greet Albahadily, Alshemry and their two children, Baneen, 3, and two-week-old baby boy, Ameer.
"I am very, very happy my car will get these new tires," Albahadily said as the technician installed his new tires.
Albahadily and Alshemry, acquired the license of their 1998 bronze Buick Century last Monday.
Joseph Betz, a Villanova University philosophy professor who arranged for Albahadily family's emigration – and got Albahadily a job in food services at Villanova – said a senior church member from St. Thomas of Villanova Parish donated the car to them.
The car had four worn-out tires, and with the inspection sticker expiration date forthcoming, Albahadily and Alshemry and very little options.
Barton, a retired social worker who's helped the Albahadily and his family with paperwork for Medicaid, food stamps and their green cards, immediately thought to nominate the family.
"From the beginning, I was one of those strong skeptics of [Albahadily and his family] getting a car because of costs," said Barton. "We were told immediately that they'd need to get all four tires replaced to past inspection."
"The timing of the contest was perfect," Barton added.
TireVan's contest held nominations from Nov. 7 to Nov. 18. Following nominations, TireVan Corporate Development Manager Taran Sodhi and blogger Vertlieb were charged with reading each submission and selecting a winner.
"I was surprised with the outcome because we were only supposed to pick one winner," Vertlieb said.
Vertlieb started the FrugalPhillyMom.com blog after she became a mother and was faced with the costs of providing for a family. The blogging mom said the blog was a way to simultaneously inform parents of low-cost initiatives and provide an outlet for Vertlieb to give back to the community.
She said she could relate to the Albahadily family's struggles.
"My parents immigrated to this country from Vietnam, and I can understand how scary a change like that can be," Vertlieb said. "It was nice to know there were people in [the Albahadily's family] community helping them out."
Vertlieb said she was thrilled with Sodhi's sensitivity in selecting both the Albahadilys and the Zembrowski family, who had their tire installation at their Bensalem home on Dec. 1, as winners.
TireVan offers its mobile tire installation services with a full selection of major tire brands for clients at home or at work. Sodhi said the company, which has service areas in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, will continue offering giveaways for families in need.