MATTOON -- New Life Car Care has moved to a facility of its own where the charitable group is continuing to help people in financial need get auto repairs and reliable vehicles.
New Life Director Dan Craw and other volunteers had worked on vehicles out of a small garage at his home, 2716 Shelby Ave., since he started the nonprofit organization in 2001. New Life purchased property at 2709 Commercial Ave. in mid-October and moved its operations to the new location's spacious garage in mid-November.
"There is room to get two vehicles in here to work on at the same time," Craw said, adding that he can also repair one while storing another. "I have actually worked on several cars here since I got it opened up."
New Life assists those in need with vehicle repairs; accepts donated vehicles to give to qualifying clients; assists clients with selecting and purchasing affordable, reliable vehicles; works to educate clients on proper vehicle maintenance; and refers clients to reputable repair shops when needed.
The nonprofit organization's auto shop services include oil changes, tune ups, brake repairs, fuel pumps, minor electrical repairs, basic electronic diagnosis, basic transmission service, and other minor repairs.
Craw said he appreciates that 2716 Shelby is a double lot and has alley access in the back yard. New Life has parked its roll back tow truck on a concrete RV pad in the back yard. The charitable group previously had needed to park its truck on borrowed space at Duncan Windows & Floors.
"I really like the fact that we have the tow truck on the same property we are operating out of now," Craw said.
A two bedroom house is also located on this property. Craw said New Life has converted one bedroom into an office and turned the other into its first waiting room. Craw said this room is especially helpful for car repair clients who have children with them.
The waiting room is stocked with copies of "Henry and the Good Mechanic," a coloring story book written by Craw and illustrated by Ally Bower. Proceeds from book sales go to New Life.
Craw said he plans to turn the house's living room into a classroom once he obtains more donated folding chairs. He said New Life had been holding its car care classes at various locations off site.
"Now, I can take people out to the garage and they can go over what they just learned," Craw said, adding that this will help them with remembering lessons.
Craw said 2709 Commercial is located in a residential neighborhood, so New Life will not have signage outside or store unregistered vehicles in the open there.
The property's garage and house have been renovated with the help of donated and at cost labor and materials, as well as monetary donations. Craw said New Life needs additional monetary donations and supplies, including plywood and insulation. He said the charitable group also can always use volunteer mechanics, plus volunteers to help with fundraising and other tasks.