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Caring with cars

23 July 2012

Caring with cars

For those who need to travel for work, study or urgent medical attention to or from areas where public transport is sporadic ornon-existent, a car breakdown ina tough time can prove disastrous.

A Salvos’ community-focused initiative that aims to help those in need by offering assistance with a variety of motor vehicle-related issues, CarCare began informally in 2007, in school teacher Brock Saunders’ garage.

He had the skills and, most importantly, a burning desire to help those who were struggling.

“In the first few years, people would donate old cars and I would fix them up from my garage and give them to needy families,” says Brock.

In late February, a new 12x12m CarCare Shed, complementing the existing community facilities operated by The Salvation Army Lake Community Church (of which Brock is a part) was officially opened. Local businesses donated generously to provide tools and a hoist.

Brock now works three days a week as a sports teacher. Then, two days a week, he and his team of volunteers work at the CarCare Shed.

Much more than just a car service, Brock says: “The shed also provides a great location for us to conduct a men’s shed.

“We also offer work experience to kids from local high schools,” he says. “It’s a great way to chat with them and build them up while they’re gaining skills and working on a project.”

Since the construction of theCarCare Shed in late 2011, the service has completed 27 vehicle repairs, at little or no cost to the client, and has prepared 5 vehicles for donation to local people in need. In the last few weeks, another 12 older cars have been donated by supportive locals to CarCare.

Brock, his church, and a volunteer team, see the service as a part of a holistic range of care to help people find stability and move forward.

He says: “The guidelines for having a car fixed or donated by CarCare are that the lack of vehicle, or broken vehicle, and lack of access to transport is a barrier in that person’s life – often in areas such as employment and education.

“One guy had gone through some really hard yards in life and was putting all that behind him with a lawn mowing business he had just started. Then his vehicle packed it in.

“We were able to fix his car, get it back on the road and it has had a big impact,” Brock says.

Liz, who was the recipient of an older refurbished car, spoke at the new shed opening and explained: “About 12 months ago I was having problems, so I was put in contact with The Salvation Army at Forest Lake; and from there I ended up with Karen who has been my case worker since then. Karen was trying, with great difficulty, to sift through some of my problems.

“As this was happening one thing went wrong with my old car, then another, and another.

She says her children’s schoolingwas even becoming disrupted.

Liz said she was incrediblygrateful to Brock, Karen and the team and says now: “It’s a real pleasure to go somewhere knowing we are going to get there.”

“And this,” Brock says,“is really what’s behind CarCare.

“Bringing hope into the lives of families, refugees, single parents, the elderly and others in need.”

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Hope where it's needed most