Suzanne Dunn is something of an anomaly in her field. When you form a picture in your mind of someone who works in an auto repair shop, she is probably not the first image to pop in your head. She and her husband Mike have owned InTown Auto Care in Moorestown for the last six years, and although she is not a technician, Suzanne has spent enough time at the shop to know a thing or two about the cars they service.
Suzanne is interested in changing perceptions of women when it comes to vehicular knowledge and care, and what better way to do that than to give some young women a firsthand look under the hood?
She recently hosted Girl Scout Troop 24701 from Shamong at the shop to help the girls, most of whom will be behind the wheel within the next year, earn their car care badge, and hopefully inspire them to learn more about taking care of their own cars in the future.
This isn’t the first time InTown Auto Care has turned itself into a classroom of sorts. It is are fond of educating any of its clientele who will listen, but Suzanne was particularly enthusiastic about this opportunity to speak with this particular group.
“I was excited to do this with the girls because girls aren’t in this industry, and they certainly can be,” said Suzanne. “I think with women you’re still looked at like, ‘oh, you’re a girl what do you know?’ Well, you can know, and you can ask educated questions.”
“Exposing these girls to what we do educates them, and you never know, it might set off a spark,” said Mike.
Having only around an hour of time with the Scouts, the crash course in car care stuck mostly to the basics of maintenance and upkeep. The girls were introduced to oil changes, car batteries, putting air in the tires, the basic layout of everything under the hood and changing a tire.
“They’re going to be in a car soon and out on the road by themselves, so if a light comes on or the car breaks down, they’ll need to know some basic things to look at,” said Suzanne.
According to Scout Leader Bridget Sawdy, the car care badge incorporates what the girls learn in drivers ed about safety and the rules of the road as well as learning basic care and maintenance of a vehicle, which is what brought them to the shop.
“It’s all stuff to make them feel comfortable when they go out on the road,” said Sawdy.
She felt that everything the troop learned at the shop fit in perfectly with the mission of the Girl Scouts, which aims to build courage and confidence in young women.
Lifelong Scout Erin Meale, 16, earned her drivers permit just last month. She says she was excited about earning this badge because it represented a topic she was unfamiliar with, but was eager to learn about.
“I feel like I learned a lot, especially about where things are under the hood of the car,” said Meale.
Sixteen-year-old Ella Sawdy, daughter of Scout Leader Bridgett, is another lifelong Scout who will be on the road in the near future.
“I didn’t really know that much about cars, so now, doing this, I feel much more confident in driving and being able to handle stuff by myself and not having to call my dad,” said Ella. “It’s important because guys always assume you don’t know how to do it. I think it’s good for us to be able to do stuff by ourselves without having to rely on guys or other people.”