Local non-profit helps single moms by repairing cars

By Andrew Roost, KXAN

HUTTO, Texas (KXAN) — It’s the last thing Tamra Mangum was thinking about it – car repairs.

Tamra Mangum has been a single mom for five years. (Courtesy: Casey Chapman-Ross Photography)

After her husband’s unexpected death, she said it was tough juggling her family, home life and work.

“Typically, there’s a lot of support in the beginning. And you have a lot of people that surround you and see how they can help,” Mangum said. “But when you get further down the road, and kind of everyone gets back to their normal lives… you’re still left with the you know, raising your kids and taking care of a home and taking care of a car.”

Her family had always taken their suburban to Christian Brothers Automotive in Hutto.

Mangum explained that when the shop found out her husband had passed away, they wanted to make sure she never had car troubles.

“Gave me a list of all kinds of things that they took care of that they found needed to be done with my car and said that was that was all taken care of,” she said, “There was no charge to me, which I was like there’s not even any words to describe what that meant to me.”

Non-profit created to help single moms

The auto repair shop provides free oil changes to single moms once a year, but the team wanted to do more.

The Hub Garage partners with auto repair shops across the country to help single moms. (Courtesy: Casey Chapman-Ross Photography)

“A vehicle isn’t just based on transportation. For them it’s – I got to get to the grocery store, I got to get the kids to school, how am I gonna get the work. So, it’s a lifeline for them,” said James Guzman, owner and president of Christian Brothers Automotive Hutto.

In 2020, Guzman partnered with Austin based non-profit The Hub Garage which provides single moms with car repair services at no cost.

“What they ask us to do is say, ‘hey, look over the whole car.’ We don’t just want to service the brakes, you know, all the hoses fine you know? All the brake lines, okay? Is the AC working, because obviously, you know, six months out of the year, it’s hot here. Is the heater working – getting prepared for winter? How’s the radiator,” said Guzman. “We overlook the whole entire vehicle. And we provide an assessment to The Hub Garage, and they tell us, okay, go ahead and get it all done.”

In the two years since its launch, The Hub Garage said it’s repaired more than 800 vehicles nationwide, 80% of those in Texas. The non-profit explained that’s more than $2.5 million in savings to single moms.

The Hub Garage has partnered with more than a hundred auto repair shops across the country to help single moms keep their cars on the road. To qualify, the auto repair shop submits information about the single mom which is vetted.

“Cup Car” Awareness

“Being a single mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world. So we’ve made it our job to help her keep moving,” said The Hub Garage on its website.

Jonathan Carr, founder and CEO of the organization, said he was in the automotive industry for 15 years and saw people being taken advantage of, especially single moms and widows.

He said the idea started with the Christian Brothers franchise in Cedar Park opening on Saturdays and providing free oil changes for moms. Carr said he knew more could be done to help families.

The “cup car” was unveiled in November along South Congress. (Courtesy: The Hub Garage)

In an effort to raise awareness, earlier this month The Hub Garage unveiled a life-sized “cup car” made out of coffee cups parked along South Congress. The “cup car” will be at Caffe Medici on Springdale Rd. for the National Day of Giving on Tuesday, November 29th.

The “cup car” was created to generate awareness for the millions of single moms nationwide who need reliable transportation to provide for themselves and their families. While it isn’t a working car, the cup car will encourage people to donate what they usually spend on a cup of coffee to The Hub Garage. By doing so, they will help keep single moms in the driver’s seat of their lives,” said the non-profit in a news release.

Mangum said she’s grateful for the help.

“My wish is that this brings awareness to a place where people can consider contributions. Whether contributions be monetary, sharing with a neighbor, or simple prayer, I believe more single moms will be blessed in the same ways I am,” she said. “Single parenting is not easy, especially when it is not something you ever imagined you’d experience. The blessings through contributions in partnerships like Hub Garage and Christian Brothers make a huge difference in the lives of a single parent household.”