Tony and Sylvia Martinez’s approach to helping the disenfranchised is both lively and from the heart
Arturo Hilario / El Observador
From turkey drives, to clothing and feeding the homeless, San Jose based organization Blvd. Bombs has grown into a magnet for those that want to be part of a car club with a purpose. Beyond getting into the pages of magazines or being the biggest show in town, these cool cars are shiny, but at the same time those being helped get to shine too.
Founders Tony and Sylvia Martinez are a tag team with a lot of love to give. They and their supporters focus their efforts on on the disparity that grows in the Bay Area.
Sylvia Martinez states, “our mission is to help the less fortunate, especially the homeless. When I was a little girl I use to walk to the store with my grandma and once in a while we would see a homeless person. My grandma would tell me in Spanish, “today it is them, but tomorrow it could be us.” My grandma passed away in 2004, and little does she know how right she was.”
Tony Martinez states, “now in days there are different walks of life that are homeless. Some have lost their jobs, homes, are divorced. People can’t find enough money to pay for their rent, so they end up in the streets.”
And thus the story of the Martinez’s pursuit of aiding those in need began. “Eleven years ago my husband Tony Martinez and I started a Donate A Coat Drive and it was surprisingly successful. With family and a few friends we went and fed the homeless at St James Park.” With donations provided from local McDonald’s and Wienerschnitzel, the couple decided that there needed to be a way to approach the growing disparity in an organized manner.
When Tony first started the car club his intentions were that it would be one that was strictly community oriented. Unlike other clubs that require monthly dues and monthly meetings, he wanted the vibe of their club to be, “like a social club and one big family. The main goal was to help the less fortunate,” says Sylvia.
In the years since their first car show, other big-name car shows have began to have their shows during the same times as the Show & Shine, forcing patrons to choose from the more well known car shows and the one that although more rooted in community service, doesn’t have as much glitz and glamour.
This sometimes leaves the yearly car show in the negative, but the Martinez’s continue to raise money and supplies for those that need it. “All we can do is try. If we do not have a decent turnout this year, it will be our last fundraiser show,” says Sylvia. Although we had a horrible turnout last year we continued to do what we do each year for the homeless, thank God for credit cards. It won’t stop us from trying. At the end it’s not for us, it’s for the less fortunate.”
Sylvia mentions a true story which she reminds herself about once in a while, to keep her pushing towards her and Tony’s goals of helping. “A little boy wanted to help the homeless kids, he was sending emails, people kept telling him ‘no’. He kept sending out letters, and finally Build-A-Bear donated 500 bears. It was very encouraging.”
Beyond the car show, Blvd. Bombs now has a non-profit wing, and with support already growing for the non-profit, (on day one of the site being live they began to receive donations), the Martinez’s march forward in their work of helping those less fortunate. With other wings of the club located in Illinois and Arizona, their reach of showing off cars and giving out sleeping bags and supplies on the streets spreads.
The Martinez’s see all this work and support as a blessing, and hope to continue to help those in need into the future.
The Blvd. Bombs Car Show takes place Saturday, June 18th, 2016 from 11AM to 5PM at Berryessa Flea Market. To support in other ways, please visit <http://www.blvdbombs.com/Donation.html> to learn more about their work and events, as well as how to donate to their non-profit, Boulevard Bombs Foundation.