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"It's exactly what this community needs": How a car wash is making a difference

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Photo: Video by kgun9.com

"It's exactly what this community needs": How a car wash is making a difference

By Liz Kotalik. CREATED Jan 16, 2014
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - You go in with a messy ride, you leave with a clean one.
 
It's standard operating procedure at places like Mister Car wash, but here, there's something more.
 
"It's been positive for me, because I know I always do a good job," Mister Car wash employee Eric Chehansky told 9OYS.
 
Eric has been working here for almost six months, and he's one of about 50 workers at seven local Mister Car wash locations who has a disability.
 
It's part of a special program with the business that CEO John Lai said has been one of the best decisions he's made: "They bring to the table this work ethic and attitude that really lifts the entire spirit of the crew."
 
He's been hiring disabled employees for about one year.
 
Those who work at job placement programs for the disabled, as well as the disabled themselves, told us they have limited opportunities for employment here in Tucson.

People like Arturo, who is blind, found it difficult to make a living.
 
In Spanish, he told us, if more businesses gave people with disabilities a chance, it would change people's perspective on all of the things they can do.
 
Arturo may not be able to see, but his bosses say he's completely capable of doing his job: cleaning. It's changed his life, allowing him to buy a home, and support his new wife.
 
But there's more going on at Mister Car wash.
 
Jean Marie, who works hard detailing your tires and the outside of your car, is from the African Republic of Burundi.
 
Through a translator, he told us: "Back home, my country, you take a bucket of water from the river, you throw it on the car, [and clean it] with a small mop."
 
He's still in awe of our technology, and when he came to America, he was also surprised about how hard it was for him to find a job.
 
But, thanks to another Mister Car wash program that hires refugees, he's working, and he's beyond grateful.
 
"To me, it's still like a dream, just like in the sky," Jean Marie said. "To be here and start  [this] car wash job...where i am now, I can't believe it."
 
But, Mister Car wash and these employees couldn't do this alone.
 
The company works with over 30 local agencies to find workers who need jobs.
 
Eric is with Our Place Clubhouse for the mentally disabled.
Contact Person: Ellen Rauch or Samantha Bounkeua
Phone: (520) 884-5553
 
Arturo is with SAAVI (Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired).
Contact Person: Arnell McSwain or Loreto Curti
Phone: (520) 795-1331
 
And Jean Marie is with Catholic Community Services.
Contact Person: Ferdinand Lossavi Lossou
Phone: (520) 623-4555
 
There's also another big placement company that works with Mister CarwashLinkages, which describes themselves as "the bridge between people with disabilities and business."
 
State Representative Ethan Orr is the executive director of Linkages and told us, "Mister Car wash is exactly the type of company that Tucson needs.  They hire and support good employees and believe in our community."
 
Nine On Your Side and Mister Car wash hope that getting this information and story out there will inspire other businesses to follow suit. 
 
If you are one of those businesses, please contact one of the above placement organizations, and they can help you through the process.
 
John Lai tells us, this is not about charity. It's business. He emphasized that these are hard-working, grateful, and compassionate employees, who deserve an equal chance to make a living, and change their life.
 
Want to support Mister Car wash? They have seven local, full service locations:
 
6345 E. Tanque Verde Rd
Tucson, Arizona
 
8175 N Oracle Rd
Tucson, Arizona
 
320 W Irvington Rd
Tucson, Arizona
 
8215 N Courtney Page Way
Tucson, Arizona
 
4941 N Oracle Rd
Tucson, Arizona
 
2409 S Kolb Rd
Tucson, Arizona
 
730 E Broadway Blvd
Tucson, Arizona
 
They also operate in 13 states at 158 locations (126 car washes and 32 express lube centers) with over 4000 employees.

 

Liz Kotalik

Liz Kotalik

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Liz Kotalik is so proud to work in her home state of Arizona with her KGUN9 family. She anchors the 7 a.m. morning show "GMT Extra" on the CW Tucson every weekday, and also reports for later newscasts.