FARGO — The Fix It Forward ministry is nearly six years old, and the auto-care side of the organization has been around for the last three. Despite this, the program has helped many who are in need overcome difficult obstacles.
They perform everything from regular upkeep to major repairs. Some cars they fix in order to donate, getting the vehicles back up and running again.
Fix-it-Forward owner Matt Carlson and co-founder Jeremy Jensen are harnessing their passion for automobiles into a force for positive change to those falling on hard times by overcoming transportation barriers in the Fargo-Moorhead metro.
"For those needy people who can't afford to get their car fixed or can't afford to buy a car, that's holding them back from being able to get that job or keep that job which allows them to be self-sufficient," Carlson said.
"Being able to get your kids to head start or to school, getting to doctors appointments, it really gives you control back in your life," said Jensen.
To date, Fix It Forward has donated 262 cars and repaired more than 600 vehicles free of charge.
Their second and new location in south Fargo opened with COVID-19 still taking its toll, and now that the cold of winter has arrived, the time is even more critical for the organization as volunteer numbers are decreasing and it is becoming increasingly hard to keep up with demand.
"The need is much greater now, because there's just so many people that had jobs, and no longer have them," Carlson said.
Some, like Justin Jondahl, helped fix up cars in Carlson's garage before the shop opened. He says he's seen many cars come in that may not even be safe to be on the road. His work with the ministry has given him experience not just in car repair, but in teaching those new to the program.
"I kind of feel a little bit like a teacher and a technician at the same time, Jondahl said. "I teach the volunteers, then they can work on their own cars easier because they learned working on other people's cars we work on."
Fix-it-Forward also works with many other non-profits in the area. Appointments are made by referral only.