In Some Towns, Charity Begins in the Car Repair Bay

November 21, 2010

Not everyone has the luxury of knowing that there is an operational set of wheels at their disposal, parked in the proximity of their home. When work is not accessible through public transportation, the reliability of that transportation piece could be the difference between meeting expenses and a family in crisis.

There are a number of programs around the country that address the needs of those, who when faced with a leaking water pump or a roaring wheel bearing, can get enough competent help to keep them on the road and working.

In Pocatello, Idaho, there is a group that has been offering help at the Grace Lutheran Church on Saturday mornings. Candidates for the repairs are referred by local churches. A group of volunteers versed in auto repair then perform maintenance services like oil changes and repairs such as brake relining. The owners provide the parts and the volunteers the labor. If the clients have no money for parts, there is a way to handle that as well.

In Arizona there is a non-profit, The Auto Repair Good Guys Foundation, which has 32 cooperating auto repair shops in various cities in the state that supply labor to install parts that the foundation provides. Participating shops go through a stringent screening process which includes reviewing their rating at the Better Business Bureau and the requirement that the shop is independently owned. The foundation emphasizes that the facilities treat customers with kindness and dignity.

Launched this month in Marathon County, Wisconsin, Wheels to Work hopes to draw together resources from the community to provide transportation for needy families. This will come in the form of donated cars or the repair of existing cars. When the need is low-cost repairs, the organization will provide them by having students enrolled in area automotive technology courses at the high school and technical college levels do the repairs while under the supervision of certified technicians.

Parts used for the repairs will be provided at cost by parts distributors in the Wausau, Wisconsin area. The effort is seen as a win for the high school students as well since the only vehicles they are able to work on now don’t exhibit any real-life defects. For the community the program may make a difference to families that have been affected by a 7.2-percent unemployment rate.   

As integral as the car is to our daily life, it makes sense to accommodate the needs of families and individuals who may have occasional trouble meeting the financial demands of car upkeep. Unfortunately for many the need for help is only one breakdown away.

[Idaho State Journal, State Press, Wausau Daily Herald]

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