“When doors open and close surrounded by prayer – either in business or the nonprofit – I know why.” – Daris DeGroot
Ask Daris DeGroot what his mission is, and most likely he won’t be talking about the mission statement for his business. Daris, who opened D’s Auto & Truck Repair in 2005, is a highly successful shop owner and leader. In fact, you may recognize Daris, as his facility was one of Shop4D’s Top Shops of 2020, growing by 30% (and is on pace for 30% growth again in 2021!), helping him find more time and resources to support his real passion: helping the impoverished people in his community.
While his shop is located in Holland, Mich., (about 30 miles from Grand Rapids), Daris serves as president of a nonprofit organization called People Helping People, which serves the nearby residents of Pullman, Mich., where poverty is rampant. His father-in-law, Ken Draisma, started the nonprofit years ago.
As the nonprofit grew, Daris transferred his leadership skills honed in his shop and applied them to the nonprofit. Today, People Helping People serves hundreds of families and children with meals and after-school programs.
Asked why it’s important for shops to be invested in their communities, Daris said, “There is extreme poverty in Pullman and being a small rural town, it has many needs. The greater Holland community (where his shop is located) is where we raise our support and many of our volunteers. Many of our volunteers are becoming friends and customers. The referrals we receive off of these relationships are very valuable as people know we are not just about the money but serving through what we do,” he says.
As a result of their community involvement, Daris said that his staff is proud of the work they do to help those in need. “One time a woman showed up at our shop crying because she had a flat tire and was completely broke. We were able to help and get her back on the road and on her way. One of my techs said to me later, ‘Wow that was awesome to help. I thought I was having the worst morning ever until I heard her story.’”
Another way that Daris helps is with transportation needs. One day a staff member voiced a desire to have a bus so that People Helping People could serve more kids. Daris looked around and found an older Ford bus. After some intense negotiations, he scored a deal and started fixing the bus at the shop and continued to do the maintenance on it (D’s donates all the service work).
“When I hear reports that the bus is now hauling almost 100 kids a week to tutoring, church, sports or other community events we are involved in, it makes me smile and tear up at the same time,” says Daris. Along with the bus, People Helping People just purchased a 15-passenger van that a donor funded. Like the bus, they are going to service and maintain it and have it ready for the after-school program.
Daris says his faith, and especially his prayer life, has truly made a difference in transforming his business and also – more importantly – his community. Thank you, Daris, for inspiring us to use the skills and resources we have available to build up our communities!
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