Nestled in a well-maintained lot off Dishman-Mica Road in Spokane Valley, you’ll find John Christensen working on classic Volkswagen cars in need of rehabilitation.

Just a few years ago the owner and proprietor of Hook’s Automotive went through his own restorative process after nearly losing his life in a horrific motorcycle wreck.

hooks-picThe year was 1998 and Christensen was just outside Colville aboard a Harley Davidson bike he had just rebuilt. The crash left him in a wheelchair for six months. For John, the most difficult fallout from the incident had to do with the loss of his left arm below the elbow. As an auto mechanic, the chances of restarting his career seemed slim.

“It took me awhile to come to grips with things – there was a lot of depression,” John said. “I’d worked with my hands my entire life.”

Over time, John began tinkering on cars again in his garage. A referral to the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation got the ball rolling on a business loan that would eventually launch Hook’s Automotive.

“I’m not a quitter,” said John. “I’d heard that there might be some funding available to start your own business.”

DVR referred John to Dave Heyamoto, Business Development manager at SNAP. Dave worked with John to organize a business plan and by June 2009, Hook’s was operating as a repair shop specializing in air-cooled Volkswagen engines. Later, SNAP provided John with a loan to purchase additional equipment.

“I’ve always been really impressed by John’s motivation to get back on track,” said Heyamoto. “He’s shown a lot of persistence.”

John credits his Christian faith for a turnaround that helped him find freedom from substance use as well as stability on a personal and professional level.

“I go to God for a lot, especially patience,” he said.

John said Heyamoto “had good insight” on what would make Hook’s successful.

“Everyone I dealt with at SNAP was very helpful,” John said. “They don’t disrespect you. Dave was a great guy to work with.”

(Written by Craig Howard, SNAP’s Community Outreach Specialist.)