The jump from pastoral staff to auto mechanic may seem unexpected, but not when you know Cathy Heying’s past. As director of social justice at St. Stephens, Heying saw firsthand a need to help people struggling to make ends meet. One of the biggest pain points for people struggling is a broken down car that doesn’t allow them to get to the job they desperately need to be at in order to stay afloat. Heying realized something needed to be done.
When the shop first opened, it was almost a year of one technician doing everything himself before Heying came on full-time—previously she had been coming after her other job. The shop is now at five bays, five days a week and the appointments haven’t slowed down.
They currently average just over 100 appointments, which includes fixing cars, providing estimates, and the part of the job even harder than the physical tasks; informing someone that their car isn’t worth saving. For many that come through the shop, it isn’t just a car.
There’s also the other part of the job that might weigh some women down, but not Heying—the sexism she faces nearly every day.
What has the sexism you face been like, being a female in a heavily male-dominated industry?
Men will want something reaffirmed from a man in the shop. They’ll say, “I wanna talk to a tech!” Or a guy was buying his niece a car and he said to me, “I thought a mechanic was joining us. ” You get to say, “Yep that’s me.”
They’re truly an organization that wants to make an impact wherever help is needed. In fact, the Lift Garage even provides advice on how to start your own shop—covering topics such as how to become a 501c3 organization, questions to ask, and considerations that need to be made in terms of staff, space, equipment, and permits.
Author: Abby Hermes - Designer: Kelly McMasters - Photographer: Rodel Querubin