Demand for free single moms oil changes has grown so much over the years that organizers have extended the event from one to two weekends (unofficially) and the initiative has garnered some international attention.
Specifically, an associate ministerial director for Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) churches in North America recently brought a contingent of 30 pastors to witness not only the bi-annual local oil change project, but many of the other efforts undertaken by the SDA’s Church in the Valley.
“It’s amazing. I wanted to see for myself what happens here,” said Jose Cortes Jr. “I believe what’s happening here can be an inspiration for all of our churches in North America.”
After four days of touring the facilities, attending events, speaking with church administrators, congregation members, and the public, Cortes said his brain was swimming with ideas Sunday as he jumped on a red-eye flight back to Washington, D.C.
It was high praise from Cortes, who supervises 5,000 pastors in 6,700 SDA churches in the U.S. Canada, Bermuda, and the islands of Guam and Micronesia.
“I’m so excited to be here,” he said, noting he’d heard a lot about the church – including its acts of kindness ministry that provides the “incredibly popular” Extreme Home Repair, the innovative outreach oil change program, along with a breakfast club, summer camps for kids, a cooking school, and other kindness initiatives.
During their trip, the delegation was also able to attend what was dubbed an Evening of Empowerment for women of all ages with motivational speaker Jennifer Maggio addressing a crowd of about 200 women.
“It’s just amazing the things that we can see in this church,” Cortes said. “We can tell that this is not a church that was planted in the community. This is a church that was planted for the community. This church exists for the community.”
Church of the Valley (formerly known as the Aldergrove SDA) changed its name when it moved into its new, custom-build digs in the 23700 block of Fraser Highway a few years ago. The facilities comes complete with a three-bay garage where the church hosted the recent Single Moms Oil Change.
Volunteers from the church’s acts of kindness ministry provided the service to 56 moms in the spring – at the time the largest number of oil changes on the team’s record.
But this time out, explained one of the mechanics on scene, Ron Bergen, the number grew to 55 on the first day, and an overflow day this past Sunday for another 18 vehicles.
While one team of volunteers washed and vacuumed the cars, another provided the oil changes, and yet another escorted the moms inside the church where they were pampered with massages, manicures, treats, and a chance to make their own lip balm. Meanwhile, a bouncy castle, climbing wall, and other activities were provided for the children.
Lisa Zolinski of Willoughby heard about the oil change program from a friend, then came across it on Facebook and signed up. She’s now participated three times, and said she’s very grateful for the entire program.
“It’s nice to get this done,” she said, having her nails done while the team worked on her car.
Likewise, Bella Howat of Aldergrove has been participating in the oil change for about five years and said the volunteers are “fantastic.”
She was inside, getting a massage, while the pit crew worked on her car. Howat was “incredibly appreciative” to volunteer Shirley Gong – a computer scientist who said she learned massage as a survival technique in Port Alberni years ago – because Gong chose to share the massage skills with oil change recipients like herself.
The program is has become so popular, Bergen said, that a team of mechanics and volunteers now have to push through six cars every 15 minutes just to keep up.
The oil change program will return again in the spring.
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