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Economic crisis takes toll on Hands of the Carpenter’s mission to provide transportation to women in need

Nonprofit seeks aftermarket community assistance as resources grow scarce

Golden, Colo.—As Covid-19 spreads, Dan Georgopulos says his faith-based nonprofit community has a new sense of urgency in addressing its mission of serving single women in need of reliable transportation.

Through their Good Neighbor Garage Program, Georgopulos, founder and CEO of Hands of The Carpenter (Hands), and his techs and service managers provide vehicle placement, repair and maintenance in an effort to relieve the financial burden and related distress auto repair can impose.

“We are seeing that it will become necessary for Hands to cover a larger portion of the repair costs and some will need additional support such as help with gas, insurance or registration fees,” he said.

Erica is divorced from a difficult marriage and living with her brother with twins and 4-month-old son, who was diagnosed with a severe case of bronchitis. The doctor said her son could no longer wait out in the cold winter weather at the bus stop – which is how Erica got everywhere. Hands was able to place Erica with a Mazda MPV.

In a recent survey of 137 women who are currently in Hands’ two-year program receiving repair, maintenance and vehicle education, Georgopulos stated the following findings:

    • More than 55 percent of responding women have reported having lost a job, had reduced hours/pay or their business has closed all together as a result of Covid-19. 

    • More than 44 percent suggest that their vehicle currently needs maintenance or repair.

One client of Hands reported to Georgopulos that she is fortunate to have a job through the Covid-19 pandemic as her company is listed as an essential business.

“She has three children under the age of 15, who are being home-schooled and cared for while she works 50 percent at her employer and 50 percent at home,” he said. “The budget is limited as she is a single parent having to fend for her children’s needs.”

Another client received a car from Hands on Monday. She is a single mother of a daughter and son who had escaped an abusive relationship after seven years.

“She had purchased a car off of Craig’s List that turned out to be a lemon and it died after a couple of months. She was trying to save money for another car when she was introduced to Hands.”

Another women was working three part-time jobs and lost all of them, he said. “Our clients all have unique stories, doing the best they can, and then they’re unexpectedly hit with this crisis. The best thing we can do is to keep serving them during this time. Emotionally, there’s so much more for them to navigate right now as they try to provide for their families — they’re handling it in amazing and courageous ways.”

Kim was referred by one of Hands’ partner nonprofits. She has one child, with no support from the father. Hands was able to provide her with a car that fit her needs and now she is able to continue her school and work.

Hands has partners to help assist in its mission, from auto repair to churches and other nonprofits. In addition, Hands has volunteers who form a “pit crew” that uses the facility to assist in repairs one or two times a month.

“We also have a dealership technician who was furloughed that will be volunteering his time repairing cars for us,” said Georgopulous, adding that the dealership, AutoNation Chrysler Jeep West, in Golden, is supplying repair parts.  

While Hands has been building contingency funds, he said he is troubled at what has happened already and concerned about having resources to serve Hands’ clients for the remainder of the year. He listed how the pandemic and economic fallout have affected Hands resources:

• Presentations to groups of potential donors have been cancelled

• Payments of approved grant funds have been postponed indefinitely

• Car donations are down

• Hands’ spring event has been cancelled

Georgopulos added that the impact of the anticipated financial loss and increased need from clients is estimated at $250,000 over the coming months.

He is encouraging one-time gifts given by check that will allow funding to reach Hands immediately; vehicle donations; or a recurring monthly gift.

“Hands is also appreciative of vehicles that shops can donate,” he said. “Shops in the Denver-metro area that consider helping repair a vehicle with parts and labor would also be very helpful — both mechanical and collision. We have vehicles that need body work — doors that have been pushed in, bumper damage, etc. — but we have very few collision shop partners.

“Also, if individuals from shops want to volunteer individually or form a pit crew to assist one or two times per month, that is huge. While we would favor having longer lasting partnerships, even if a shop can assist while they are slow right now, we are grateful for the help.”

Hands is in the process of launching a pilot program to serve women in need beyond Jefferson County and into the Broomfield area. “This week, we’re serving our first client up there.

“As we weather this storm, Hands will come out even stronger.”

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