Aurora nonprofit doubles car repairs for single moms with new building

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Rose Paz distributed money each month for car repairs. One time she needed new tires, another time she spent nearly $2,000 on a new transmission. She uses her car to get from her home in Arvada to her job in Aurora, in addition to taking her children to school and to the other parent’s house.

“When you have a car and it’s your only means of transportation, you’ll do anything to make it work,” Paz said.

But now the single mom is driving a refurbished vehicle she got at a discount. She bought it from Hands of the Carpenter, a nonprofit that provides affordable cars, repairs and maintenance to single moms in the Denver area.

The 20-year-old organization operates out of Golden and opened its second location in Aurora on May 14. Approximately 30,000 working single women live on limited incomes within the service area of ​​Aurora’s new location.

It is estimated that approximately 30,000 working single women live on limited incomes in the service area of ​​the new store in Aurora. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)
The nonprofit hopes to open two more locations in the Denver area by 2029.

The nonprofit organization serves approximately 250 moms a year at the Golden location. The second site will allow the organization to serve twice as many women a year, leaders said.

“We just want to remove the barriers that single moms face if they try to be the sole provider for their family,” said founder Dan Georgopulos. “One of the biggest unmet needs that we found out a long time ago was transportation.”

Hands of the Carpenter offers two programs to help single mothers. Customers pay 50% of the cost charged by competitors for one-time assistance with vehicle repairs or replacement. The other program lasts three years, with customers paying 35% of the costs in the first year, 50% in the second and 75% in the third.

The nonprofit hopes to open two more locations in the Denver area over the next five to seven years. Employees are emboldened by the results of a recent evaluation showing that women participating in the program have seen their earnings increase by at least 28%.

The organization received a direct loan for the building from donors organized by the nonprofit SVP Denver. Donors provided a joint loan at a below-market rate, an innovative new funding model that has already been used twice to help local nonprofits. Nonprofits get affordable funding in a tough real estate market, while investors receive modest returns that they then redistribute to other organizations.

Hands of Carpenter employee Crystal Scott, client Annette Martinez and Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman during the opening of the organization’s new location on May 14, 2022. Martinez holds the keys to a vehicle that she got through the non-profit organization. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Mondragon, Carpenter’s Hands)

“All around, it’s a big winner,” said investor Justin Folkestad. “We have the ability to give them the money on a temporary basis, they can use it, and then it comes back to the investment group to deploy elsewhere in the community.”

Folkestad, who sits on the board of Hands of the Carpenter and SVP Denver, has been impacted by the generational shift that occurs when these mothers are able to provide reliable transportation for their families. He said the stories of women missing out on job opportunities or their children missing doctor’s appointments due to transportation issues made him want to help the organization grow.

Automotive Service Advisor Cinthia ‘Cin’ Cabral and Chief Technician Russell Bacon inspect a 1951 Mercury Coupe. is missing time with your kids,” Bacon said. “The mission I’ve encountered most here is the difference you make in people’s lives; their ability to live. Just having a reasonable source of transportation is amazing. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)

“You don’t realize how difficult transportation really is in Denver,” Folkestad said. “Something that would take you 20 minutes in your car could take you two hours and several bus transfers.”

While many vehicle donation programs simply take a car and sell it, the nonprofit’s donation program refurbishes as many cars as possible to make sure women get away with it. go in safe vehicles. Georgopulos said he would like the community surrounding the new location in Aurora to embrace his mission by donating his vehicles. The donation process begins with a online form on the association’s website.

Hands of the Carpenter is a faith-based organization based on a biblical call to serve. Georgopulos said the element of faith is not tied to any demands of mothers, but is built into why staff members do what they do.

“I would say that initially, as a founder, it was my Christian faith,” Georgopulos said. “As it has grown and changed, it means something different to each staff member, whether it’s their faith or their values, the way they were brought up or their his passion to serve.”

Paz says the nonprofit has saved her a lot of time and money. The mechanics decided that more repairs on her old car weren’t worth it, something she hadn’t heard from other auto shops. After proving she was employed with an internship and had a clean driving record, she was eligible to buy a car at just 35% of its value. She paid $3,350 and drove away in an insured vehicle that had been donated and then refurbished.

Paz was even hired for a position within the organization as a customer service coordinator. She said she supported women who applied to the program because she wanted them to have reliable and affordable transportation as she found it.

“I think if I had had [my car] outside of that program, I don’t think I could have afforded it,” Paz said. “I would probably still be in the same car as me, trying to fix it and keep it for the long haul.”


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