A Minnesota Meineke Car Care Center LLC franchisee helped Cars for Neighbors give away its 1,000th vehicle to a single mother in need of reliable transportation so she could keep her job.
Mark and Barbara Koloff own Meineke franchises in Columbia Heights and Ham Lake, Minnesota, and through their work with Cars for Neighbors, they helped give away the 1,000th vehicle at their Ham Lake location.
Cars for Neighbors helps community residents who can’t afford vehicle repairs get the transportation they need to work and take care of their families. The organization takes donated vehicles and works with the Meineke centers in Columbia Heights and Ham Lake to provide donated or discounted repairs to ensure the car is safe and reliable on the road.
The recipient, Georgetta, lives in Blaine, Minn. and needed a reliable vehicle to keep her job with the Minnesota Autism Center. She initially came to Cars for Neighbors for help with a car repair. But after an inspection the organization deemed it unrepairable. But since Georgetta is working, she was added to the waiting list for a donated vehicle.
Once the donated vehicle became available, Meineke donated more than $2,000 in labor to get the van ready for her, and replacing the transmission, front brakes, tie rods, timing belt, spark plugs, valve covers, tires, side mirrors and tailgate, plus changing the oil.
“Because of supporting shops like Meineke, we can help families enjoy a new lease on life,” says Jim Huff, executive director of Cars for Neighbors. “Their kids go to school with your kids; they sit next to you at worship service; and they stand next to you in the checkout line at the store. This is not an obscure group somewhere; they are truly our neighbors.”
Meineke has helped repair more than 325 vehicles, some of which were then donated to families without vehicles. The stores also have repaired cars for people who didn't have to means to keep their vehicle in safe conditions, and also discounted their labor rate by 50% to repair cars that are approved by the organization for repair.
Parts required for these cars are donated by local parts stores. In addition, Meineke hosts a car clinic 10 times each year, and with Cars for Neighbors has hosted more than 30 “Car Care Saturdays” where six to 10 volunteers come into the shop to provide repairs on cars that are then donated to deserving residents of Anoka County.
“It makes you feel good to help people out. It’s about helping the community. It’s a very good relationship and we’re glad to be a part of it,” says Mark Koloff, owner of the two Meineke stores in Columbia Heights and Ham Lake. “And is it good for business? Absolutely! We want to be known as a generous company. I don’t think there’s any doubt of that.”