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Single mothers get free car care thanks to church ministry

November 14, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -Single mothers may receive free car care, instruction on household budgeting, and breakfast and lunch for themselves and their children four times a year at Bethel Assembly of God Church in Chambersburg.

On Saturday, about 10 single mothers and their children gathered at the church. After breakfast, child care was provided while the mothers attended the budgeting workshop. Their cars were worked on at Chambersburg Automatic Transmission, owned by Fred Gindlesperger, a member of the church's Men's Ministries.

Dennis Helfrick, president of Men's Ministries, said about 12 volunteers, supervised by professional mechanics, change the oil and filter and do a safety check of the belts, lights, fluids, brakes, exhaust system and hoses. They also keep records on each car.

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"We do immediate repairs if there is time," Helfrick said. "Dealerships in the area donate supplies and time generously."

"The ladies said they needed this service," he added Saturday morning as he watched volunteers working under a red SUV. "We wanted to do what we could to help out. People donate money to the ministry for major car repairs. The ladies can get the work done anyplace."

"The men enjoy doing this. We never have any trouble getting enough help," he said. "It's a team effort. We're glad we can be a blessing to the ladies."

According to Mary Ann Deal, director of the Single Parent Family Ministry at Bethel, the car-care program was started in March "as a service to the single parents in our community. We looked at a demographic study. Nationally, one-third of all families with children are single-parent homes; in Franklin County, the number is 40 percent. This is a good group to minister to."

Ninety-five percent of single parent families are unchurched; a large percentage live at or below the poverty level, she added.

Deal teaches a budgeting class called "Making Ends Meet" to the mothers coming in for car care for the first time. Participants become familiar with financial terms and budgeting, learn to be good stewards of what God has given them, gain confidence about money management, prioritize spending and learn to avoid debt. Deal also gives them three months worth of budgeting forms and encourages them to keep a log of all the money they spend.

"If you get a cup of coffee at Sheetz every day, you'll see how much that is in a month," she told Saturday's class. "Budgeting will help you know where the money is going and help you gain financial freedom."

Shari Jays of Chambersburg said the Single Parent Family Ministry "brought me to this church. It has been an absolute godsend."

The Single Parent Family ministry is a Biblical-based ministry assisting single parents in practical ways, according to information from the church.

Besides the car-care ministry, the church offers a One Parent Plus Kids program, an eight-week course designed to build healthy single-parent families; and Successful Single Parenting, a Sunday school class for single parents covering a variety of topics, at 9 a.m. every Sunday.

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