Cars can be a financial strain for the people who need them most. This Colorado nonprofit helps working single moms keep their vehicles running

Listen Now
20min 23sec
Courtesy Hands of the Carpenter
Hands of the Carpenter, the nonprofit founded in Colorado in 2003, provides low-cost vehicle repairs, maintenance, education and support for single mothers with dependent children with the goal of helping them remain self-sufficient and care for their families.

For many, having a reliable vehicle is not just a luxury, it's a necessity. It helps one get to work, take their kids to school and manage the daily demands of life.

However, when the need for costly repairs arises, the financial strain can be overwhelming, especially for people like single parents already struggling to make ends meet.

Hands of the Carpenter, a nonprofit founded and operated out of Colorado, has for just more than two decades been helping working single mothers with dependent children in Colorado get low-cost vehicle repairs. Its mission is to get these women back on the road in order to maintain the jobs and training they need to support their families.

“In our research, we found that single moms are often the most vulnerable population at risk of falling into poverty if they cannot keep their job,” said Daniel Mondragon, the resource development director for Hands of the Carpenter. “And so if that car goes down, that could be a snowball effect. I hate to think that there's still challenges for women in the workforce, but there are. And so if we can take away one thing that would cause an employer to say, ‘I don't want you anymore because you can't get to work.’”   

The organization’s team of mechanics complete repairs at its two locations in Golden and Aurora and they’re actively seeking a third location, possibly in the Northglenn area. Along with providing low-cost repairs, Hands also helps the women enrolled in their program with ongoing maintenance support and education. If their vehicle is beyond repair, they also help them find replacement vehicles, mostly from a pool of vehicles that are donated by members of the Colorado community.

"We've served over 600 women last year alone, and the need continues to grow," Mondragon said. "For many single moms, a reliable car is the difference between stability and uncertainty."

Courtesy Hands of the Carpenter
Priscilla Guerra, a single mother in Littleton, received low-cost car repairs from Hands of the Carpenter. Since 2003, the Colorado-founded and operated nonprofit has supported the transportation needs of single mothers with dependent children to help them get back on the road to remain self-sufficient and care for their families.

Priscilla Guerra of Littleton agrees wholeheartedly. Guerra, who’s raising her teenage daughter, Brooklyn, solo says words cannot adequately express how much the support she’s received from the nonprofit has made a difference in her life.

"When my car needed costly repairs, I was stressed and overwhelmed," said Guerra, who works in the medical field. "I didn't have the $1,200 it would cost to fix it and my warranty didn't cover the repairs. That's when I reached out to Hands of the Carpenter."

Guerra says the mechanics at Hands completed all of the repairs she needed at nearly half the rate she’d been quoted from the car dealership. She has remained connected to the organization through its long-term maintenance support program.

“Sometimes you feel like you just can't catch a break, but then when you find a place like this, it's like there are people that are willing to help,” Guerra said. “I just feel very grateful and happy and I'm excited about it”

Mondragon says the idea for the nonprofit started in 2003, when founder Dan Georgopoulos, his wife and a group of others set out to help some of the single ladies in their church. They expected to complete a lot of home repairs, but soon found that the need wasn't substantial because many of the women lived in rentals, where maintenance was not their responsibility. As they listened to the women's stories, they repeatedly heard them say that if their car went down, they would likely lose their job, their home and maybe even their kids.

“So, Dan and his team quickly understood its cars; that was a linchpin issue,” Mondragon said. “And today still we are the only nonprofit organization in the Denver metro area trying to attack this issue for single moms.”

As Mother's Day celebrations commence, automotive service director Crystal Scott says it warms her heart to know her team at Hands is there to help support single mothers in the Colorado community year-round.

"We're not just fixing cars; we're helping these women maintain their self-sufficiency," Scott said. "A reliable car means they can keep their jobs, support their families and thrive."