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Grant gives shelters ‘Garage for Good’

With a single oil change you can further the training of women in a non-traditional trade and support survivors of abuse.

The “Garage for Good” on the Grand Chute campus of Fox Valley Technical College supports programs at Harbor House in Appleton and the Christine Ann Center in Oshkosh. A $78,000 grant from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership of the Community Foundation got the program on its feet. BNGP grants are funded by the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs from the annual U.S. Venture Open golf outing, with additional money from the J. J. Keller Foundation and other community partners.

The program — officially called Jump Start — provides free or reduced-price service to abuse survivors, offers them training and employment and will generate revenue for the shelter programs. Organizers are hoping to raise 20% of the necessary revenue from full-pay customers.

FVTC has provided space in the J. J. Keller Transportation Center, 1825 N. Bluemound Dr., as well as equipment and a lot of expertise.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Harbor House Executive Director Beth Schnorr said. “We’re very proud of our technicians.”

There was some initial concern that other repair garages would object, Maria Wierichs, executive director at Christine Ann, said, but the “competition” is offering to help Jump Start, too.

Since it opened in March, garage customers have included many FVTC staff members, supporters of the two domestic abuse shelters and the general public. The clientele is overwhelmingly women, Wierichs said, perhaps because of the “purple carpet promise” that technicians will fully explain what’s wrong with the vehicle and the repairs that are clearly needed. That’s a promise men are appreciating as well, she said, because they don’t have to pretend to know how a car runs just by virtue of being male.

For the abuse survivors, it’s more than a car repair.

“Lack of financial independence is a reason survivors are unable to escape an abusive situation,” Schnorr said. Another is a lack of reliable transportation.

“You have to have your car maintained,” Wierichs pointed out. “This is also doing good. It’s a bonus.”

Jump Start is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For an appointment, call (920) 572-4327.

Jump Start has these goals for its first year:

100-200 full-pay customers.
35 to 70 clients receiving low- or no-cost repairs.
50% repeat customers.
50% of those receiving help begin or stay enrolled in school.
Six to eight clients complete automotive training at FVTC.

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