Hands of The Carpenter (Hands) is a faith-based nonprofit community that uniquely serves single mothers and widows in need by addressing the often overlooked issue of transportation. Hands provides automobile repair and maintenance in an effort to relieve the enormous financial burden and related distress that automobile repair puts on this population and their opportunity for economic self-sufficiency.
We were founded in 2003 by current president and executive director Dan Georgopulos and his wife Brenda. Dan was laid off from the technology industry and shortly after, began leading the single parent ministry at his church. After hearing stories of abuse, homelessness, the death of a spouse – the types of events that led these mostly women to be on their own, Dan and Brenda decided to do whatever they could to make a difference in the lives of these individuals.
Initially, the focus was providing home repair to allow these individuals to live in a safe environment with their children and reside independently. Time spent with these single mothers and widows quickly revealed the original plan to provide automobile repair in the future needed to happen sooner rather than later. The majority of single mothers and widows did not own their own home but rented instead. Most single mothers and widows did, however, own an automobile.
The following problems were identified:
- Automobiles were 10-15 years old and because of limited financial means the vehicles could not be maintained; the safety and longevity of the vehicle were compromised; needed repairs were not being made.
- The market rate for repairs was $80-100 per hour.
- Single women were often taken advantage of relating to the diagnosis and repairs made or not made on their automobiles.
- Single mothers were losing jobs because of lack of transportation, often forcing them to take their children out of school and to depend on government assistance.
- Car donations would be needed to provide cars to single women in need of a car
In consultation with the board of directors, volunteers, community businesses, and churches, our car repair program was formed to provide high quality, timely repairs by certified mechanics. Shortly thereafter, we started our quarterly Car Care Clinics, which provide maintenance for automobiles preventing costly repairs.
Significant progress has been made in both the numbers of repairs we are able to make each year and the efficiency in which we are able to make those repairs. Car donations are helping us make progress in two ways. One, we are able to sell some cars and use the funds to provide the necessary auto repairs. Two, we are able to fix up some of the cars and either give them to single moms to can’t afford a car or sell it to them at just 35% of the market value.