Free car care clinic to break ground Tuesday on new Covington location

COVINGTON, Ky. – Several years ago, Mia Potter was driving a “beat-up van” that needed repairs she couldn’t afford.

Then she met Bruce Kintner, director of Samaritan Car Care Clinic.

Since 2007, Samaritan Car Care Clinic has provided low-income people with free, routine basic maintenance on their car as a way to help them move toward economic self-sufficiency.

For clients like Potter, the clinic’s services often made the difference as to whether or not they had reliable transportation – a critical variable for them to get to and from work to earn a living.  

“For me, Bruce has been a support that I didn’t have in terms of keeping my car running,” said Potter. “He helped me get repairs done when I couldn’t pay for it.”

Kintner has long carried out the maintenance work in borrowed garage space. But on Tuesday, he’s breaking ground on what will be a permanent location at the corner of Martin Street and Madison Avenue. City officials will be speaking at the event, held at 2 p.m.

A reliable ride

The clinic started years ago when Kintner was doing an oil change for Chinna Simon, the senior minister of Madison Avenue Christian Church, where Kintner attends.

Simon mentioned that he frequently ran across single mothers at the church’s community dinners who were without reliable transportation, many because they couldn’t afford the maintenance that would keep their car from breaking down. He asked Kintner, who was knowledgeable and skilled in basic car maintenance, to help.

Kintner asked David Brownfield, who owns Walther Autobody on Madison Avenue, if he could borrow his shop. “Fortunately, he said ‘yes!’ ” Kintner said.

Then local nonprofits like the Women’s Crisis Center, Life Learning Center, Brighton Center, and Welcome House started spreading the word. Soon he was doing things like hosting car maintenance clinics for Lincoln Grant Scholar House’s single parents who are matriculating as full-time college students.

“Who’d have thought that 15 years later, right?” Kintner said.

Maintaining maintenance

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kintner said the demand for the clinic’s services increased.

“The ladies who lost their jobs in the restaurant and hospitality industries due to COVID turned to Door Dash, and that meant more wear and tear on their cars,” he said.

As the clinic’s client base grew, so did its need for support. Today, the clinic’s partners include the Life Learning Center, Lincoln Grant Scholar House, Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Northern Kentucky, Brighton Center, and Gateway Community College. Its sponsors include The R.C. Durr Foundation, Inc., the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. Foundation, the Elsa Heisel Sule Foundation, Women’s Fund – Greater Cincinnati Foundation, and The Butler Foundation.

Kintner said he looks forward to Samaritan Car Care having its own designated location. Clients and former clients do too.

“Bruce has been a blessing in my life, and I think it’s really amazing that the clinic is going in motion,” Potter said.


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