With a benevolent mission of support for single moms throughout the south Lake Washington community, Renton’s New Life Church rally’s up a small army of volunteers twice each year for the Single Mom’s Oil Change. Single moms have a really tough roll. Most are so absolutely dependent on their cars, and yet many don’t have the resources to deal with auto maintenance when housing, food, clothing and healthcare for the kids takes precedence.
The Single Mom’s Oil Change got its start about four years ago. As a church we wanted to impact our local community in a meaningful way. I think we changed oil & filters on about 60 cars on our first event. I don’t think any of us ever expected the oil change event to become such a huge day of service. Now, four years later dozens of volunteers dedicate a long Saturday to set up the ramps and push up their sleeves and prepare for the 250 Single moms now registered for an oil and filter change.
Moms and kids arrive and are welcomed into a large waiting area for relaxing, coffee or refreshments. Volunteers help entertain the children with movies and game activities, while mom gets some needed rest and attention. The cars are valeted down to one of 16 oil change stations, where experienced volunteers service the fluids, check wiper blades, bulbs and check-engine-lights, before releasing the cars over to a tire & vacuum station. There, floors are vacuumed and the tire air pressure is checked before a valet returns the serviced car back to the lobby.
This year O’Reilly’s Auto Parts supported by donating a portion of the supplies and dedicating an employee to run supplies as needed. Emerald Services of Seattle has provided waste oil recycling services at every one of the oil change events. It takes a great amount of organization and coordination to pull off 250 oil changes. It would be much more difficult to pull off without the support of local businesses, and the many individual acts of generosity.
Some of the cars come in with some pretty significant problems well beyond what we are equipped to help with. But, we stretch as far as we can with the resources we have and make recommendations to Mom about possible existing service needs to plan for. On some occasions we will change out brakes, or if necessary arrange for tires. There have been a couple of occasions where we just didn’t want mom driving another mile with kids in the car on a rainy day and bald tires all the way around.
The bald tires, squeaking brakes, and disintegrated wiper blades often tell the tough story in the life of a single mom trying to make ends meet. It tugs at your heart when you see the condition of some of these cars, and when you see the wallet sized photos of kids taped to dashboards. It’s rewarding to have an impact, to make a difference, to check-off just one worry from the list of worries single moms have to contend with. There is a restoration that comes from serving our community, of seeing a father and son, or husband and wife team up all day to change oil, or exchange a thank you wave with a mom on her way out. It’s a great thing to be a part of. New Life Church is an amazing church, and they’ll be the first ones to tell you that it’s all about honoring God, by loving one another.
*Editor's Note: This story was submitted by Stuart Avery. Click here to post your own stories and photos. Click here to post an event on our free online calendar. Send letters to the editor to email@example.com.