New shop shifts gears to help those in need

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — SHIFT Garage is now open in Sioux Falls; it’s a mechanic shop, with some major differences. SHIFT is run by volunteers and aims to help only people who are struggling to afford repairs. 

It’s no secret that car repairs can be very expensive.

“The diagnostic equipment is very expensive, insurance, business insurance is expensive,” SHIFT volunteer John Matthius said.

But those costly concerns can be life changing for a family struggling with finances.

“SHIFT is a car program; we help people achieve reliable transportation. The main thing we do is help get them much cheaper car repairs because we’re volunteer labor,” SHIFT Founder Joe Smith said. “So generally we can turn like an $800 repair bill into a $200 repair bill.”

This September, Shift Founder Joe Smith is celebrating 10 years of helping people in the Rapid City community.

“We’ve repaired give or take 150 cars a year, then getting cars to people that need a car from scratch, we do 25 to 30,” Smith said. 

Along with helping with car repairs, SHIFT also fixes up donated vehicles to give to families in need or sells higher value vehicles donated to the nonprofit.

“So instead of helping one family, we can sell a high value car and help five, six, seven, eight families. That’s part of the way we’re funded,” Smith said. 

Now he’s bringing this new concept to Sioux Falls, with a new shop near Benson Road and Cliff Avenue and is looking for more people in the community to get involved. Along with car donations, SHIFT garage also depends on volunteers to do the work.

“I’ve been a lifelong automotive enthusiast, and I’ve been a do it yourselfer,” Matthius said.  “I’m not a trained mechanic.”

“Anyone can volunteer at SHIFT. We’re not all mechanics or anything, we just want to help and we like cars,” Smith said. 

Even if you’re not interested in cars, SHIFT can also use some volunteer help in the office, all of it helps make a big difference and life-shift for the recipients.

“In our society, we’re very much transportation dependent,” Matthius said. “Most everyone needs a car, between shopping and childcare and employment.”

Smith says over the years, his program has helped repair more than a thousand cars in the Rapid City area, and donated hundreds of cars to people in need. All with a goal of total transformation.

“The mission of SHIFT is actually to positively affect generational poverty. And the way we do that is with cars. But then every car we repair, we incentivize the applicant to go to a budgeting class. Then a maintenance class. So, next time something happens, they’ll be able to do something about it themselves,” Smith said. “We’re not trying to compete with garages in town, I actually want the same they want, I want these folks to be able to afford to go to a traditional garage in the end. We’re just here to help them in that time they can’t.”

He says hearing the stories of how this gift is helping change lives, keeps the mission of SHIFT growing in South Dakota. 

“She was able to move out to her own place, got her child into a better daycare across town, because she could get more hours at work, because she was in her own vehicle and had the ability to do that,” Smith said. 

 If you’d like to learn more about getting your car repaired through SHIFT, visit their website. To learn more about applying to receive a donated car, contact Community Outreach.

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