ST. GEORGE — Switchpoint’s newest micro-business venture is allowing one man to “pay it forward” in return for what the community resource center has done for him.
John Sims, 49, was working on an old lawn mower – a Honda model from the 1990s, he said – when he spoke to St. George News about what ultimately landed him at Switchpoint Small Engine Repair.
With 30 years of experience in small engine, motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle maintenance and repair, Sims said, “My true passion is small engines. I like working on chain saws, weed-eaters. Stuff like that.”
While taking a short break from working on the mower, Sims said he moved to St. George in 2019 from Elsinore, a community just southwest of Richfield where he ran a mechanic shop out of this garage. Prior to the move, he said he kept “falling into his addiction” due to repeated associations with the same group of individuals there.
Eventually, Sims came to St. George and found himself in the drug court overseen by the 5th District Court. From there, he was sent to the Crossover Recovery Center in Hildale – the residential substance abuse treatment center run by the Switchpoint Community Resource Center.
One day, Carol Hollowell, Switchpoint’s executive director, and her husband visited Crossover. Sims said a trimmer brought by Hollowell’s husband for some outdoor work wouldn’t start, so he started to fiddle with the machine a little and got it to start right up, which caught Hollowell’s attention.
“Carol said that if I could show her I was serious, then she’d give me an opportunity,” he said.
Sims completed Crossover’s program and would end up doing some odd jobs for Switchpoint for a month. At that time, he was told Hollowell and Switchpoint’s Board of Directors wanted to invest in his talents as a small engine mechanic.
They asked Sims if he wanted to work in their new shop, and he wholeheartedly agreed.
“As long as it’s a pay it forward, I’m all about it,” he said.
Spencer Brown, who wears many hats at Switchpoint but currently serves as the co-director of small engine repair, said Switchpoint reached out to the community and asked what kind of service was needed in the area and a small engine repair shop was among them.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to allow people to use their skills to achieve self-sufficiency and also provide something the community can enjoy and the community needs,” Brown said.
Switchpoint Small Engine Repair is the fourth and newest micro-business venture launched by the nonprofit Switchpoint Community Resource Center. Other businesses include a thrift store, the Crossover Recovery Center and the Bed’n’Biscuits Pet Village on Dixie Drive. The new small engine repair shop is located next to the pet village.
The micro-businesses serve two purposes: to provide a place where Switchpoint’s residents and clients can work and volunteer in order to receive job training and earn some money, and to provide a source of funding for the community resource center.
“When Carol gave me this opportunity, it came as a blessing,” Sims said. “Switchpoint has been amazing to me.”
Switchpoint proper is an 84-bed shelter and resource center for homeless and impoverished individuals, helping people find a home of their own and achieving self-sufficiency.
Additional services Switchpoint offers the community include a soup kitchen and food pantry.
“I’ve been there. I’ve been broke. I’ve been homeless. When you’re homeless you don’t think you’re going to come out of it,” Sims said with a pause. “I can’t thank (Switchpoint) enough. I go home with a sense of accomplishment. I’m happy now. I can smile.”
Switchpoint Small Engine Repair is located at 960 N. Dixie Downs Road, Suite B in St. George, next to the Bed’N’Biscuits Pet Village.
Services and pricing can be found on the repair shop’s webpage.
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