While the trucking industry seeks more women to fill the roles of driver, technician and leader, the automotive industry has some of the same challenges. It’s still not common to see female mechanics working on your car. Even less common is a shop run by women for women.
That’s the goal of JumpStart Auto Repair in Appleton, Wisconsin. Their mission is to provide honest, reliable service to women, who reportedly make up 65 percent of all car repair decisions.
Their focus is even more targeted, as their partners are two domestic abuse shelters in the area, the Harbor House Domestic Abuse Programs and Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services. The number one reason someone will return to an abusive relationship. So, JumpStart LLC, a garage for good, was created.
In January, JumpStart opened in the J. J. Keller Transportation Center at Fox Valley Technical College. For now, the service is available Fridays and Saturdays, while classes are not in session at the college garage. Future plans are to own a full-time facility and possible a mobile service vehicle.
Domestic abuse survivors referred by the agencies will receive free or discounted service. Proceeds from repairs for other customers, both women and men, Pay for the auto repairs of a domestic violence survivor.
Katie Cross is the garage’s general manager. Katie has more than 24 years in the automotive industry. She spent her childhood learning about engines from her father, and knows her way around the shop. She is passionate about making her customers feel comfortable while having their cars serviced.
Jenna Bundy is currently the only technician, but more will be added as the center grows. Jenna worked in factory jobs in the area before enrolling in the small engine and automotive programs at Fox Valley Technical College. Jenna is especially thrilled with the abundance of tools she is provided with at the college. Everything she needs is available at the college’s teaching facility.
While the goal of JumpStart LLC is to provide service to support domestic abuse survivors, a more-long term plan is to host workshops to empower women. From changing tires to headlights, refilling wiper fluid or just “talking shop,” the JumpStart program aims to be a resource for women interested in better understanding how their cars work.
While men are certainly welcomed at JumpStart, the environment is one where domestic abuse survivors will feel comfortable. They know that the repairs being done are not only needed, but sometimes crucial. One woman who brought her car to the facility after a mechanic told her there was nothing wrong with the vehicle, learned she had a wheel bearing that needed repair. In fact, after looking at the wheel bearing, Katie and Jenna were surprised the wheel hadn’t already fallen off the car.
When a woman arrives at the facility, Jenna will look at the vehicle, then explain to the owner what repairs are needed and why and then tells her how she will fix the problem. She wants women to feel confident in knowing the repairs are being done and why it’s needed. Jenna feels that when women understand how a car works, they will feel more independence in making the right decisions about its care.
JumpStart LLC received start up funding from the U. S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs, but the program will need to be self-funding moving forward. The long-term goal is to use proceeds to support Christine Ann and the Harbor House domestic abuse shelters. While the Fox Valley Technical College is providing the facilities for now, a service station is also in their long-term plans.
Anyone wishing to support JumpStart Auto Repair can donate through Indegogo.com, a crowdfunding site. Search for JumpStart Auto Repair. For a $25 donation you’ll receive a window cling, but for a $75 donation you’ll get a full-service oil change at the facility. A $500 donation adds a vehicle cargo tote as well. They are also looking for a donation of a courtesy car for customers to use while waiting for their vehicles to be serviced.
The JumpStart Auto Repair “Garage for Good” is a model that empowers women and helps domestic abuse survivors become more independent through safe and reliable transportation.