Saskatoon, Saskatchewan -- July 28, 2016 -- The collision repair business doesn't just repair vehicles. Sometimes it transforms lives.
Rick Langlais is the founder of Hands On Outreach & Development Centre, dedicated to serving the physical and emotional needs of Saskatoon’s inner city children and youth. About five years ago, Langlais approached Tom Bissonnette of Parr Auto Body to see if some of the children that frequented Hands On Outreach & Development Centre could come to the shop and learn some autobody skills.
Bissonnette pointed to a couple of challenges with the original idea. The shop Parr Auto Body is very busy and it would be difficult to transport the kids from the inner city core out to Parr Auto Body's facility. Parr Auto Body is located about 10 kilometers away from Saskatoon's downtown, in an eastside business area. Instead, Bissonnette suggested that if Langlais could find a building downtown, he could see if there were volunteers willing to come down and work with the kids.
Over the course of the next year, Langlais found a property downtown, renovated it to house a "shop" area, got the necessary equipment donated and approached Bissonnette a second time.
Before starting the project, Langlais and Bissonette traveled to Vancouver to meet with Mark McKim and check out the Customs for Urban Teens (CUT) program. The CUT Program puts car enthusiasts side-by-side with young people to work on classic and custom car restorations.
Langlais and Bissonette returned to Saskatoon with a vision of what was possible, and they set about finding a good car to re-build. It was at this time that Roger Braun got involved. A Senior Manager with Tiger Automotive in Saskatoon, Braun knew of a 1970 Nova that was available. He also suggested that Tiger Automotive could help out by sourcing and supplying the necessary parts.
With the help of many donors and members of the Saskatoon Auto Body Association the team raised money and recruited volunteers to work with the kids and re-build the Nova.
Working for two hours every Wednesday evening, the kids and volunteers stripped the car down to a skeleton. They rebuilt the engine, welded the frame and installed new panels. They even modified the car with some cool upgrades.
Four years later, over 1500 hours of labour and about $40,000 in parts and materials, the project has produced a finished car.
Hands On Outreach & Development Centre plans to raffle off the car starting in August, with a draw date of April 2017, one week after the Draggins Car Show. Keep an eye on handsonoutreach.ca for a chance to buy raffle tickets.
The car was completely transformed over the last four years. We suspect the kids and volunteers involved the project have undergone a transformation as well.
For more information on Hands On Outreach & Development Centre, please visit handsonoutreach.ca.