March 29, 2007 at 7:17 a.m.
Begun in 2002 the program has passed along 22 vehicles to needy families, who are chosen based on their promising participation in county social service programs.
The Immanuel Car Care Ministry program relied on Parker from the very start to inspect vehicles that people wanted to donate. He evaluated the vehicles for needed mechanical repairs, supplied parts at-cost and gave time getting the vehicles into shape to pass along.
But Parker's involvement went the extra mile. The nomination letter recommending him for the state award, submitted by social workers in Chisago County, states:
"Even after the cars are given to the participant, Randy's relationship with these families continues. He helps car recipients understand on-going maintenance needed for their vehicles to run well. Randy has made a tremendous comittment to both his church and community in supporting the Immanuel car donation program."
Parker Automotive sits across the street from Immanuel Church.
The proximity of the two-- at the exact time the church congregation became determined to fight poverty through transportation-- might best be described as Divine design. Parker not only jumped into his role as technician, but also was a "true community leader" the nomination letter continues. "His example will hopefully inspire others to do their part in filling gaps in the social services safety net." The car ministry has given many troubled families in this region hope for a successful and stable future, the nomination concludes.
The car program has evolved over the years and now includes other car professionals.
Wally Carlson & Sons, Inc. in Lindstrom is one of three auto businesses carrying on where Parker has left-off. Wade Carlson told the Chisago County Press he is glad that he is able to support the program and help contribute to the success of the families receiving the road-ready donated vehicles.
Perry's Auto Salon and Hunter Auto also bring their expertise to the program.
The car pictured with Carlson & Sons Inc. automotive techs Leif Thompson and Tim Carlson, will be presented shortly.
Social Services Worker Chris Johnson is involved in coordinating two churches involved. Lakes Free in Lindstrom and Immanuel Lutheran congregations serve as non-profits for donations.
There is still a need for mechanical expertise, monetary donations and of course-- vehicles-- to keep the car ministry going. All interested supporters can contact Chris Johnson through social services at the county government center or call the churches to find out how you can help.