By: Shay McLaughlin
Struck with a string of bad luck, a family is tossed into poverty. The car is in shambles, and the family cannot go anywhere, let alone relocate.
Then an opportunity opens up that changes everything: The automotive center at Front Range Community College works with Loveland’s House of Neighborly Services, a non-profit that seeks to help those living in poverty.
At no cost, the FRCC automotive center will help those in need who are sent from the House of Neighborly Services. Joe South, co-director at the automotive center, said the program has a similar agreement with the Poudre School District.
The cars brought to the center provide learning experiences for students in the FRCC automotive program, so any work done is free of labor costs.
South said that the work the students are able to do depends on the timing of the class. For example, if a car needs work on brakes, it won’t happen until the class on that topic is in session.
In most situations, barring helping non-profits, all the automotive center requests as payment are donations and the cost of parts.
There is one additional savior: the FRCC Auto Club is open to everyone, the club can also work on cars brought into the automotive center provided that an adviser, or student, with the legal liabilities to work on cars, is present. It meets Tuesdays 6-9 p.m.
South said the automotive center stays busy working on students’ cars through word of mouth and the pacts made with the House of Neighborly Services and PSD.
A few stipulations come with the work. While much can be done on cars brought to the auto center, it generally limits the time vehicles can be there to no more than two days. If someone brings in an engine to be dropped into a car, the auto center can do that if it’s possible within two days. However, rebuilding an entire engine is out of the question, South said. If a car’s repairs can be done in sections, it can be brought back multiple times, he said.
The automotive center has eyes set on expanding, said South. The automotive center receives a lot of its class curriculum and what it provides from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence -- NATEF -- a governing body for automotive schooling and assessment.
South said he and other instructors were in a conference focused on providing classes for hybrid and electric cars, but they ultimately have to wait on NATEF for moving forward on what classes the automotive center will offer.
South said he knows of a student who has already opened up his own shop. While some students don’t finish the program as South said he would like, he said that some of them find jobs in the career they were going to school for before they even finish the program.
The automotive center at FRCC provides benefits and assistance not just for current FRCC students, but also for the community.
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