Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward

Donations Help Repair Cars for People in Need

A Pay It Forward donation is helping the neediest members of the community become independent and self-sufficient.

“For those struggling, transportation issues are a major roadblock to getting or retaining employment and housing.” – Matt Carlson, president, Higher Power Automotive Ministries

Bell Employees

Paul Fleming, Bell Investments wealth advisor

Chris Sinner, teller


Higher Power Automotive Ministries

The Need

Imagine trying to get where you need to go – a job, or your child’s school or day care – without a reliable car.

Higher Power Automotive Ministries is a Fargo nonprofit organization that repairs cars to help people in need become independent and self-sufficient. Using volunteer labor, discounted parts and donations to cover the costs of repairs, they also repair donated vehicles for people in need without a vehicle or whose vehicle is beyond repair.

The group partners with other organizations to find people who are struggling and would benefit from their help. In the 2 years Higher Power Automotive has been operating, they have repaired more than 200 cars. In the last year, the organization gave away 55 cars.

The Impact

Paul Fleming learned about the group at a Lions Club meeting. The Fargo Gateway Lions Club donated money to help Higher Power Automotive, and Paul contributed part of his Pay It Forward funds.

“It really struck me,” he remarks. “These guys saw a need and decided to do something about it. Matt said it’s much more than providing a working car; they have restored hope for many recipients. What a difference they’re making in our community!”

Other employees have donated their Pay It Forward funds to Higher Power Automotive in the past, and Chris Sinner and her husband, Nick, donated 2 cars.

“We live in a society that is so dependent on automobiles. I can’t imagine getting kids to day care and school and a job without a car,” Chris comments. “Transportation can be the determining factor in helping individuals in need get ahead. It’s very empowering. I think in many situations, having a car is the last piece of the puzzle that can make or break a cycle of poverty.”

Higher Power’s most significant operating cost is buying car parts, which average around $200 per car.

“Due to the dire situation of most of our clients, we do not charge for any of our services,” Matt notes. “Donations from Bell Bank’s Pay It Forward program have enabled us to fix more cars and give away more cars to the neediest members of our community.”

Back to Giving Stories