Ryan Bennett is a blessed man.
His mother, Barbara Bennett, nearly died last year, four days after the renewal of her vows on her 35th wedding anniversary. She went into a coma for two months and went without brain activity or oxygen for 45 minutes.
“God saw fit to give our mother and our wife and the glue to our family back,” Bennett said. “(So) we are trying to put some of that glue back into the community.”
Since Bennett feels God has blessed him and his family, the United Auto Care owner gives back to the community through his company’s specific skills. The Flowery Branch car repair shop offers oil changes and other automobile services to those who cannot afford them.
“It’s just a way to give back,” Bennett said.
Bennett and his employee, Edwin Pabon, provided these maintenance services free of charge to area families in need during the business’ seventh annual “We Care” benefit and motorcycle ride Sept. 12 at 4746 Atlanta Highway in South Hall.
The gloomy weather may have deterred some people from coming to the event, but the show went on.
“It was smaller than previous years,” Bennett said. “We’re not here for people to show up. We all know why we are here. As long as we’re doing this, I don’t care.”
Instead of money, United Auto Care accepted donations of all shapes and sizes. Clothing received was donated to Under the Bridge ministries, a stand-alone ministry that helps clothe the needy in the community. All other donations, such as canned goods, went to Covenant Connections Church.
The “We Care” benefit began with Grace Baptist Church’s congregation, which had a large population of needy families. The Bennett family, which has owned the car repair shop for 10 years, had the means to step in and was willing to help.
Now, the United Auto Care offers this service to anyone who has fallen on hard times and works with area churches to find those people.
Covenant Connections Church youth leader Monica Leonard took advantage. She sought single moms, guardians, foster parents, families living on one income and college students at her church, which is just down the road from Grace Baptist at 5818 Atlanta Highway.
Her search proved fruitful. Leonard gathered 12 of 20 needy families from her church’s food pantry ministry program and members of the congregation.
They came in their cars, trucks, vans and SUVs to receive a complimentary oil change. But they found a little more than they bargained for. Motorists found a hot meal, featuring hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and drinks.
Then Bennett raffled off prizes, including a toolbox, detail kits, oil changes, brake jobs and paintings. The qualified raffle recipients ranged from single-parent households to disabled veterans and the elderly.
Bennett mentioned the giveaways and oil changes could not have been possible without other businesses helping. Sponsors included: Ace Hardware, Battle Born Veterans Club, Covenant Connections Church, Slack Auto Parts and the Flowery Branch Police Department.
“They really helped us out a lot,” Bennett said.
But car repair company owner does not plan to stop with oil changes. In three months, he plans on hosting a similar event to help those with brain injuries.
In conjunction with the car repair services, the Christian motorcycle ministry club Chariots of Fire hosted a charity ride, which started at United Auto Care.
“Anything to help the community,” Chariots of Fire lead pastor Chuck Crotzer said.
The Chariots of Fire ride raised $300.
The 2-year-old motorcycle club with its 30 members goes on several charity rides and raising money for various causes in the area. The club also participates in a coat drive with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office. The club helps gather and find coats for the sheriff’s office, which delivers them to needy children.
Chariots of Fire also attend Daytona Bike Week, an annual event for bikers in Florida. During the event, the group spreads the Gospel.
“We go out in the middle of the street and pray for people,” Crotzer said.
Yearlong member Dewey Millwood explained people who may not attend church are drawn to the motorcycle club. He said they end up joining the church — the club is affiliated with Covenant Connections Church — because they don’t feel pressured.
“They don’t push it down your throat,” Millwood said.