This Army vet liked to fix cars as a hobby. Now he's helping low-income families moving forward – WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando

We rely on our cars for just about everything.

Most of us need one to get to work, the grocery store, and our medical appointments.

For those living paycheck to paycheck, a costly repair can be a disaster.

This week’s Getting Results Award winner is donating his time to those who can least afford an unexpected breakdown.

Ed Rosa started the nonprofit, Fix It Forward, in January to help people with auto repairs they can’t afford. They may not have a lot of money, they may be homeless, they may be veterans.

“I had no idea of the problem. This was not on my radar,” Rosa remembered. “I’d been helping friends and family, working on their cars for free. I told them I’d buy the parts. A friend told a friend and then before I knew it I was getting calls from people I didn’t know.”

That’s when Rosa realized there was a need and he had the ability to help.

“A lot of people call me and they’re desperate. I’m about to lose my job, my car is broken,” Rosa said, as he worked on his latest client’s minivan. “They get emotional when I can finally help them out.”

In 2023, Kelly Blue Book found consumers spend an average of $548 on a car repair job.

Fix It Forward is limited to light mechanical repairs, jobs Rosa can complete within a few hours working in a driveway. He donates his time and relies on donations to pay for the parts.

Brittany Ossorio filled out an application for repairs when her 2010 Mazda developed a coolant leak. She relies on the car to get her kids to school and their doctors appointments and therapy.

“I have three kids with autism. I already struggle with bills so this saved a lot of headaches,” Ossorio said. “He came, fixed it and we did a handshake and a hug. I think I thanked him a thousand times.”

Rosa spent 20 years in the Army. He retired in 2019.

“I retired thinking I’m going to play golf and not do anything all day. That lasted about three weeks, then I realized I had to do something because I’m going insane. I had to find something to do and fixing cars is my therapy. So why not help people while I’m at it,” Rosa said.

Rosa says he’s been most surpassed by how many people he meets who are living in their cars.

“I’ve helped countless homeless families. A family of four. Two kids, two adults living in a car because they can’t afford anything else. He works full-time, she’s on disability. It’s too much money to receive government assistance but not enough money to make it,” he said.

Fix It Forward relies on poverty guidelines to qualify for help and prioritizes homeless veterans and single mothers. Safety is Rosa’s biggest concern.

“I did a test drive for a young single mom in Orlando and the brake pads were completely gone. It was metal on metal. I drove about 10 feet and stopped. I said I can’t drive this car,” Rosa remembered. “She was driving to work and to take the daughter to school because she was late on rent and couldn’t afford it. It’s a great feeling to be able to help someone like that because I know they’re safe.”

Rosa said it’s tough when donations run low. He hopes to find a corporate sponsor to help with costs.

If you would like to help, donations can be made through the Fix It Forward website.

I think when God speaks to you, you listen. That’s what I did and here I am,” Rosa said.

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