George Zaloom: Missional Mechanic (Staten Island)
Before doing oil changes and tire rotations, George Zaloom wants his customers at Zaloom's Auto Repair Shop to know one thing: that God loves them. The native Staten Islander of Syrian descent has been a businessman in NYC's "forgotten borough" for over 35 years. "It's a beautiful day at Zaloom's," he says each time he answers the phone, and then, hanging up, "God bless you!"
However, if actions speak louder than words, it is Zaloom's efforts in Staten Island that communicate his hope in Christ. An elder at Salem Evangelical Free Church, chairman of Pregnancy Care Center (formerly Crisis Pregnancy Center of Staten Island), and an active member of the Bucks Business Network, a weekly gathering of Island business owners, Zaloom works tirelessly to embody the gospel and bless his community. When parts of the Island were pulverized by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, he entrusted his business to his son Joseph so he could devote himself to volunteering as a relief worker and community organizer. Today he divides his time between running the shop and continuing his work on Sandy relief efforts, which are expected to take years.
Neighbors and colleagues who do not share his faith ("yet," says Zaloom) speak highly of him. When his Jewish accountant arrives to work on his books, the men greet with a bear hug. "I'd trust George with my last dollar," he says—proof that Zaloom defies the shady auto-mechanic stereotype. A hair stylist next door to the auto shop, a self-described atheist, agrees that the community is better because Zaloom is in it. "George does a lot of good," he says.
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