CONROE, Texas – At God's Garage in Conroe, Chris Williams and his volunteers are motivated by a mission.
“At God’s Garage, we repair cars for free for single mothers, widows and wives of deployed military and we also give cars away for free,” said Chris Williams, the founder of God’s Garage.
Williams said he opened his nonprofit for women who have fallen on hard times because he likes to help people.
He said it’s something his father instilled in him. Williams got the idea when he picked up from the side of the road a mother and child from his church. The woman told him they were walking in the rain because her vehicle needed repairs but she couldn’t afford it.
This year, he opened the doors to a 3,500-square-foot garage space. They run on donated cars and monetary donations from individuals and businesses.
Strike, a pipeline and services company in the Woodlands, has donated to God’s Garage. It’s a company that likes to find projects that serve the community.
“It was a perfect fit for what Strike was doing,” Ky Bishop, staff chaplain for Strike, said.
The cars put women back in the driver’s seat, literally.
“Several years ago, I became ill and could not maintain my job and I lost my car because I could not work,” said Jeanne McCowan, who will soon be handed the keys to a God’s Garage car once the paperwork is finished. “I'm thrilled to be a recipient of one of their cars. They are the nicest people ever. I love it.”
For Williams, it’s those moments of heartfelt thanks that keeps him going. He gave up a full-time job to fulfill this dream. The thank-you from a 10-year-old child was one of the highlights for Williams.
“She says, ‘Mister, do you know this means mommy can take me to the doctor and to the store and to school?’ and yeah that kind of got to me,” Williams said.
The donated drivable cars that need between $500 to a $1,000 of work get repaired and given away. The donated cars that are not drivable get auctioned off for parts or sold for scrap. That money, Williams said, goes back into buying parts to repair cars.
When the keys are handed over, the volunteers usually make sure to be there.
“The women when they come to get the cars, you see the old guys, the tears start flowing and just the reactions to those ladies getting the car, that's what keep you coming back,” said Harvey Yaw, a volunteer.
The news of God’s Garage is making headlines. It was featured in People magazine in September.
The calls for help are coming in. Right now, God’s Garage has a waitlist of 300 women.
To be considered to receive a car or free repair work or if you want to donate go to Godsgaragecar.com.
For the women, it's a life-changing event.
McCowan plans to go back to work.
"I'm ready to rock 'n' roll. I hope this can go as fast as I wanted to," she said.