Abe Giesbrecht, a mechanic in the small community of Landmark, MB, is known for his high-quality automotive work. What some of his customers don’t know is that Giesbrecht Mechanical, the shop he runs alongside his father, John Giesbrecht, stands for more than excellent customer service and automotive repair. It’s also becoming a vehicle for generosity and justice.
At the start of 2020, Giesbrecht began donating a portion of the profits from his business to support various relief and development organizations, including Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Even when the pandemic hit this spring and many businesses across Manitoba were shuttered, Giesbrecht continued to give faithfully.
“We’ve been blessed in this business,” says Giesbrecht, whose loyal customer base includes folks who drive in from Winnipeg, at least 30 kms away. “We thought donating to organizations like MCC would be a fun way to give back this year.”
“We’ve been blessed in this business. We thought donating to organizations like MCC would be a fun way to give back this year.” - Abe Giesbrecht
One of the aspects he appreciates about being a supporter of MCC is being able to give to the issues he is most passionate about. “I’m a big believer in [supporting] health, nutrition and clean water,” explains Giesbrecht. “I think a lot of people don’t realize how wealthy we are. I can’t imagine the feeling of not having clean water or a hospital available, or having to worry about being able to feed your family for your next meal.”
Giesbrecht’s generous spirit and global mindset are rooted in his Mennonite upbringing. Growing up in a Mennonite community, he was exposed to the relief, development and peacebuilding work of MCC, especially through local MCC thrift shops. Later on in life, Giesbrecht’s wife, Laura-Lee Mitchell, became an important influence in his philanthropy and community involvement. “My wife has been my biggest inspiration,” Giesbrecht shares. “Ever since the day I met her, she is constantly looking for ways to give back through time or money. And that’s rubbed off on me.”
“My wife has been my biggest inspiration,” shares Giesbrecht. “Ever since the day I met her, she is constantly looking for ways to give back through time or money. And that’s rubbed off on me.”
Over the years, he has personally supported the work of MCC and other relief and development organizations, such as Canadian Foodgrains Bank, Mennonite Disaster Service and Compassion. In 2020, he is donating $1 for every invoice from his business over $50 to these organizations and donates $5 for every job over $500.
On the other side of the world in Chad, another mechanic named Papayon Adji is living with hope because of the generosity of people like Giesbrecht. After fleeing violence in Central African Republic, Papayon and his family found help and support at a refugee camp in southern Chad supported by MCC. There, Papayon received job skills training in order to service vehicles as a means of income. Given his technical skills, Papayon was also trained to maintain the new water pumps for the refugee camp, which was provided by supporters like Giesbrecht.
MCC photo/Colin Vandenberg
These two mechanics—one from a community of 1,500 people in Landmark, MB, and one from a refugee camp in southern Chad—have never met, yet their stories are connected. Both are not only blessing others with their automotive skills; they are also improving the lives of others.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted people who were already hungry and lacking access to clean water, hygiene supplies and health care, Giesbrecht believes it is essential to support the work of organizations like MCC now more than ever. “It’s easy to give when you have confidence in the amazing work of these organizations,” says Giesbrecht, adding that he hopes his efforts will inspire other business owners to pay it forward.
Follow Giesbrecht Mechanical's giving journey on their Facebook page.
You can learn more about fundraising for MCC by visiting this page mccmb.ca/Fundraisers.