Man Who Started Car Clinics Wins Highest Service Award

Story by Peggy Hodgsen Kremer

A Cold Spring man who founded a charity to provide affordable car repairs has won the region’s highest community service award.

 Bruce Kintner, who founded Samaritan Car Care Clinic in 2007, received the Greater Cincinnati Jefferson Award on March 21, presented in a ceremony hosted by the Rotary Club of Cincinnati.

As the local Jefferson Award winner, Kintner becomes a finalist for one of the five national Jefferson Awards to be presented in September in New York City by the national service organization Multiplying Good.

The national award, known as the Nobel Prize for community service, was founded in 1972 by Cincinnati native Robert Taft and former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

The last local awardee who won the national Jefferson Award was Katie Nzekwu  of Ft. Thomas, in 2021. She is the co-founder of Found Village, which provides resources and support to help teens develop the skills and support systems needed for a stable life.

Kintner started the Samaritana Car Care Clinic as an outreach effort at Madison Avenue Christian Church in Covington, Ky. He worked with social service agencies and forged partnerships with local garages to make affordable car repairs, helping low-income working families get to work and maintain independence.

In 2022, the program helped 315 families (70% of them single mothers), and worked with seven garage partners. Several major grants allowed Kintner to build the program’s own repair center in Covington.  Kintner stepped down from his career at PNC bank to direct the program.

The Greater Cincinnati Jefferson Award program is administered by The Rotary Club of Cincinnati and is one of more than 90 community awards programs across the country that sends winners to be finalists for national Jefferson Awards.

Since The Rotary Club of Cincinnati started hosting the local award program in 2005, nine local winners have become national awardees. The last local awardee to win  the national Jefferson Award was Katie Nzekwu of Ft. Thomas, in 2021. She is the co-founder of Found Village, which provides resources and support to help teens develop the skills and support systems needed for a stable life.

  “This program celebrates individuals whose service and imagination have a continuing impact on the community,” said Bill Shula of Bethel, who chairs the local  Jefferson Award program. He said the award program shines a spotlight on outstanding programs happening all around.

“These things are going on in our community and most people don’t even know it,” he said. “We are honored to help identify and reward outstanding service.”

Kintner was one of three local finalists for the Greater Cincinnati Jefferson award

Finalist Amy Vann of Batavia was honored for creating Give Like A Mother (GLAM), a volunteer movement to provide school clothes for low-income children.

GLAM provides clothing packs, each including more than 25 items, to outfit a child with school clothes for a week. Vann launched the program in 2018 as a personal effort, creating 250 clothing packets that first year. She recruited friends and family in following years. Six years later, GLAM distributed its 10,000th clothing packet and the organization has the equivalent of 3.75 full time positions plus 70 volunteers. Vann chairs the GLAM board and volunteers more than 80 hours a month.

Finalists Joe and Noel Julnes-Dehner of Hyde Park, were honored for founding the Summer Camp Reading Program in 2010 to help children build reading skills. Noel Julnes-Dehner, Canon at Christ Church Cathedral, was doing after-school tutoring in Northside when she realized that her students couldn’t do their math homework because they couldn’t read the instructions. When she and her husband couldn’t find summer reading programs in the area, they started their own.

 Their Summer Camp Reading programs are now running in nine sites with stunning results. Typically, students can lose 10% of their school skills over the summer. In 2022, students in the Summer Camp Reading programs showed a 46% increase in reading comprehension, 25% increase in reading fluency and 35% increase in oral reading fluency.

Rotary partners on the local program with the Cincinnati Enquirer. “The Rotary administers the program, but the award is open to anyone in the community,” said. Shula.

Nominations for the 2025 Jefferson Award open in January. Information is available on the Rotary Club of Cincinnati web site 

The Rotary Club of Cincinnati was Cincinnati’s first Rotary Club, founded in 1910. It is a service and networking organization for business and community leaders and has a mission to provide selfless service in the community and the world.