'It has a tremendous impact': Calgary auto repair shop gives cars to needy single parents
Donated labour and costs put mechanically-sound vehicles in hands of those who need them
A northwest auto repair shop is finding cars, fixing them and giving them to needy single-parent Calgarians, and one of the owners says everyone gets a little something out of it.
"The idea came to me when a friend of mine came into the shop," Justin Knibbe of Knibbe Automotive Repair told CBC News.
"Her husband had left her with three very young children. She came in to get her van fixed. It needed some brake work."
But then something interesting happened.
"Some of the employees said, 'I want to take care of this for her,' and they gave their own money to fix this vehicle for a friend of mine that they barely knew because they saw the situation she was in."
So they made it a project.
Sometimes an existing customer will sell the shop a car at a great deal. Mechanics will work on their own time in the evenings to get it in tip-top shape. Other businesses will contribute their labour for free, too.
"We have access to cars that we can buy, we can fix cars on our own time. So this is just one way we are able to give back," Knibbe explained.
Managing partner Joe Kirk says it's about connecting expertise with need.
"It really just has to do with helping people out that just don't have the means to do it themselves either through money or time," Kirk said.
"They just don't know how to fix a vehicle properly, where we can do that. If you can do that kind of thing, I think it's what you have to do as a decent human being. We can do more here."
Kirk says everyone at the shop in Crowfoot Crossing has really embraced the idea.
"We have very good customers and very good technicians and employees like Fred, staying after hours to do work on vehicles."
Service writer Fred Armstrong says a lot of work goes into getting a car ready to donate, including the most recent one.
"We had to do some brake work initially, and there was a little bit of damage to the front of the car," Armstrong said.
"We had Crowfoot Image Autobody do some professional repair for us. We put some new tires on it. We went through it from one end to the other to make sure that everything is in the best shape possible so that whoever gets it isn't having a problem and they're going to get a really good car."
Armstrong says he gets something from the process as well.
"I enjoy it. I find it very relaxing and peaceful in the evening to do that kind of thing," he said.
"The cars have gone to people that really ... it makes a difference in their life. It's more than just a need or want for somebody. It has a tremendous impact on hopefully some single mom somewhere with some kids that need to go places."
Knibbe says they take nominations through their Facebook page and by email.
"We go through all the applications as a group and we vote on which ones are the most deserving," Knibbe explained.
"It's been very good for team building of the business."
He says he's seen the impact the program can have.
"When we give that car away, it can be quite emotional," he said.
"A single mom was living in a shelter and putting herself through university and taking care of her children. A car, as small as it is, is still live-changing, in a way, to some of these people. Often they won't ask for help."
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With files from Radio-Canada's Dennis Genereux