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Hands of The Carpenter (Hands) provides automobile repair, maintenance, and related education to single mothers and widows in need so that they achieve and maintain self-sufficiency.
Brief history and how Hands has evolved
Initially, Hands focused on providing home repair and carpentry services to allow single parents and widows to live in a safe environment with their children. After "walking a mile in their shoes," Dan and Brenda redirected the business model to auto repair, realizing the majority of single parents and widows actually rented their homes instead of owning, but drove older cars needing work.
The car repair program was formed to provide quality, timely repairs by certified mechanics. Clients contacted Hands, and the organization paid partner shops for repairs at a reduced rate. Hands also began Car Care Clinics, which provide proactive maintenance for automobiles and education for the drivers, preventing costly repairs by empowering the women with knowledge and know-how.
On September 1, 2010, Hands bought an automobile repair shop and renamed it Hands Automotive, Inc. The shop is open to the public with the resources generated partially funding repairs for single mothers and widows in need through the nonprofit organization.
In 2014 Hands began initiating partnerships with other NAPA AutoCare Elite repair shops. So far six businesses have agreed to provide one repair visit per month to a client of Hands, for a total of 72 additional women served!
Repairs & Car Care Education
Automobile repair is provided on a one-time or occasional basis for low-income single mothers and widows who are not a part of the Link Hands program. To be eligible, she must be a legal driver and taking steps toward self-sufficiency, i.e. working or going to school. She must provide approximately 35% of the cost of her car repair. She either pays that herself, or another organization or church could pay it on her behalf. This amount is actually paid forward to the next client in need of services.
When a client first brings her car to Hands for a repair, the Program Coordinator Crystal (who is a single mother and program recipient) provides valuable education for the new client. With a solid background in mechanics, Crystal takes the woman into the shop gives her an under-the-hood tour of the client’s car. The client fills out an information sheet as Crystal teaches her about such specifics as what type of oil the car requires, what type of motor, how to check the brake fluid, etc.
The 2015 objective is to increase the number of women served to 225 and the number of repair jobs provided to 300.
Whenever a potential client brings her vehicle to Hands for services, the mechanics assess the condition of the car including its age and how much work would need to be done in order to keep it running well. If they decide the car is not worth repairing, the client may be put on a list to receive a donated car. When the car is received, the recipient writes a thank-you note that is sent to the donor with a picture.
The 2015 objective is to increase the number of cars donated to 25.
Car Care Clinics
Hands provides car maintenance and educates women through Car Care Clinics. At these bi-monthly events for single mothers and widows, volunteers change the oil, safety check, and wash the cars. Activities are provided for the children, and the women are taught valuable information about car care in general, as well as about their own cars in particular. This is a vital service because proper preventative care helps to avoid costly major repairs. The education also builds confidence in the women, enabling them to know what to do when they sense something is not right with their cars.
In addition to the regular clinics at Hands Automotive, members of the Hands in Action volunteer and advocacy group are starting Car Care Clinics in other areas of the Denver Metro-area. So far, Hands has assisted these volunteers in starting three clinics, focusing primarily in the northern suburbs.