Car-care nonprofit breaks ground on new location in Northern Kentucky

A local organization broke ground April 19 on what will be the region’s first dedicated nonprofit vehicle repair shop.

The Samaritan Car Care Clinic, launched in 2007 and now a stand-alone 501(c)(3), hopes to move into the new facility in downtown Covington, Ky., by the end of the year.

A rendering of the new building shown at the groundbreaking April 19.

The organization’s executive director, Bruce Kintner, has long carried out the free or low-cost maintenance work in borrowed garage space.

The clinic started when Kintner was doing an oil change for Chinna Simon, the senior minister of Madison Avenue Christian Church, where Kintner attends.

Simon mentioned that he frequently ran across single mothers at the church’s community dinners who were without reliable transportation, many because they couldn’t afford the maintenance that would keep their car from breaking down. He asked Kintner, who was knowledgeable and skilled in basic car maintenance, to help.

Kintner asked David Brownfield, who owns Walther Autobody on Madison Avenue in Covington, if he could borrow his shop.

Then local nonprofits like the Women’s Crisis Center, Life Learning Center, Brighton Center and Welcome House started spreading the word. Soon thereafter, Kintner was doing things like hosting car maintenance clinics for Lincoln Grant Scholar House’s single parents who were matriculating as full-time college students.

Bruce Kintner

Clinic volunteers have performed maintenance clinics every quarter since March 2007.

At the end of 2021, the clinic received a gift of land at the corner of Martin Street and Madison Avenue in Covington, clearing the way for this week’s groundbreaking on the new facility.

From left to right:  Barbara Schaefer (Director, Butler Foundation); Karen Zengel (Board member of the Samaritan Car Care Clinic; Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul of Northern Kentucky); Marty Butler (Board Chair, Butler Foundation; Board Chair, Samaritan Car Care Clinic); Shari Caldarelli (Board member of the Samaritan Car Care Clinic); Bruce Kintner (Clinic Director); Bill Butler (Founder, Butler Foundation).

The Samaritan Car Care Clinic addresses transportation barriers to self-sufficiency. It does that in a very direct way: one car repair at a time. The vast majority of families referred to the clinic are female-headed households. In 2021, just over 80% of referrals were single moms, with just under 40% being ethnic minorities. With the help of supporters, the clinic in 2021 helped 227 families stay on their path toward self-sufficiency. With enough support, the goal for 2022 is to help between 250-300 families.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kintner said the demand for the clinic’s services increased.

“The ladies who lost their jobs in the restaurant and hospitality industries due to COVID turned to Door Dash, and that meant more wear and tear on their cars,” he said.

As the clinic’s client base grew, so did its need for support.

Today, the clinic’s partners include the Life Learning Center, Lincoln Grant Scholar House, Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Northern Kentucky, Brighton Center and Gateway Community College. Its sponsors include the Millstone Fund, R.C. Durr Foundation, Inc., the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr. Foundation, the Elsa Heisel Sule Foundation, Women’s Fund – Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the Butler Foundation.

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