All Katina Bland wanted to do was surprise her Argyle High School senior daughter Maya with a reliable car to drive between their Harvest home and the University of Oklahoma in the fall.
The widowed mother of four – who knew little about cars – thought she was doing just that when in April she met a man in a Grapevine bank parking lot with a for sale sign on a 2006 Honda Civic. She asked the “short, nice, legitimate looking” 80-ish-year-old man, who said he was a military veteran, about the vehicle and he agreed to follow her to her Honda dealer to check it out. While their basic assessment recommended some updates based on the mileage (194,000) to get it in tip-top shape, when she asked if it was safe to drive, she was told yes. So, she paid the man’s asking price and drove the car to be detailed then to the home of fellow California transplants Brian and Nicole Resendiz to hide it.
“We were just giddy waiting to surprise Maya and the next morning, Brian said it’s leaking oil,” Katina said.
So, Brian, whose family moved here last summer, took the vehicle to the new Christian Brothers Automotive on Hwy 377 in Argyle. Manager Joe Paulson told him, among other things, the engine was cracked, and the axle was broken, and it would cost about $10,000 to properly fix.
When Brian found and confronted the seller in the parking lot at the Roanoke Walmart, the man threatened to pull out his .38 special gun, causing Brian to walk away. That’s when Brian, who owns Trademark Building Services general contracting company, knew Katina had been scammed with a lemon.
“I knew it was a bad decision by me,” Katina said. “I knew this wasn’t my lane. If my husband had been here, he would have checked it, grilled it, and probably never bought it. I relied on him for certain things. I’m not good at anything with wheels. What I do well ain’t mechanics. I just trusted the “veteran” I bought it from and the mechanics at Honda.”
Briefly overhearing the situation, Christian Brothers franchise owner Robert Lowe eventually learned the whole story from Paulson. He immediately thought of Christian Brothers’ corporate Neighborly Department that awarded money to people in need.
“Christian Brothers really has a foundation of helping people. If we can find a way to help people we do,” Lowe said. So, he talked to his people in Houston and told Paulson to tell Katina the company would take care of all costs.
“Joe called Brian back with the news and he about had a coronary on the phone,” Lowe said.
Soon thereafter Paulson let Katina know, which at first, she couldn’t believe. That changed once Christian Brothers completed the repairs in just a few days after which Katina was finally able to present Maya with her surprise.
“At first, I was like ‘what are we doing here.’ Then she went ‘surprise!’ This is my car,” Maya said. “I always wanted one. Then I looked inside and wondered ‘what are all these extra gadgets.’ What is this gear shift thing?”
Yes, the car is a stick shift and Maya’s challenge has been learning how to drive it, which Katina and Brian have been teaching her.
“I really have to focus more,” Maya said. ‘I have never seen anyone drive a stick shift and they really go fast so it’s really cool.”
The Blands moved here in 2021 one week after patriarch Martell passed from lung cancer.
“We landed here completely upside down and broken,” Katina said. “What was most important was my four kids.”
Oldest son Mitchell who lives in Dallas, is 26, Maya is 18, Maxwell is 16, and Makayla is 15. All have been involved in athletics.
Mitchell specialized in the high, long, and triple jumps in high school, earning a scholarship to California State University-Sacramento before transferring to Southern Illinois University. Maxwell, who caught two passes and scored one touchdown on Argyle’s varsity football team as a freshman, earned two Junior Olympic medals in water polo. Makayla, an eighth grader, is a goalkeeper on a club soccer team.
Maya, a star on Argyle’s softball team who will be on a scholarship in that sport at Oklahoma, met and helped sophomore Eva Resendiz acclimate to her new school. Soon after, the families became fast friends.
Once the Blands arrived in Texas, they found the people warm, kind, and helpful, especially with their situation.
“People were really nice. The first people literally unpacked our boxes for us,” Maya said. “We came home from school, and everything was unpacked. It was really nice.”