Ford Salute to Dealers Recognizes 2011 Honorees
The Ford Salute to Dealers program honored four of the automaker's standout retail partners today during a ceremony held prior to the opening of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Convention in San Francisco. The annual awards, presented for the 11th time this year, go to Ford dealers who have set new standards for their commitment to community service.
This year's winners were:
Don and Cheryl Brenengen, owners of Brenengen Ford in Sparta, Wis.'”Focusing primarily on reaching out to the youth of Sparta and other nearby Wisconsin communities, the Brenengens efforts have included leading a grassroots campaign to establish a local Boys & Girls Club in the area. In support of this, the couple drove fundraising efforts that garnered three years' worth of operating funds for the club, contributed a substantial donation of their own to the campaign, established an endowment fund to help sustain the club's future, arranged to rent an unused building for just $1 a year to be the club's new home, and personally lead remodeling work on the facility.
'Don and Cheryl have truly touched the community by giving thousands of hours of their time and financial support," said Craig Kuberski, Ford Motor Company credit business development manager. "Their commitment is an inspiration to others, especially their dealership staff. At each of their five dealerships, they have fundraising committees responsible for raising money and giving back to the local community."
Keith Kocourek, president of Kocourek Ford Lincoln-Mercury in Wausau, Wis.'”Kocourek is a dedicated community leader who has committed himself to helping those in need. Among his many contributions to local charitable groups include mentoring (with his wife, Linda) for Big Brothers/Big Sisters; piloting volunteer flights for groups like Angel Flight, which offers free transportation to people in crisis; and the Mother's Milk Bank, which delivers breast milk for premature babies to needy hospitals; serving as president of the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin; and supporting the Neighbor's Place food drives.
"Keith's substantial contributions, financial and personal, could not be further removed from traditional 'check book charity,'" said Michael O'Brien, Ford Motor Company regional sales manager. "He has chosen to become a part of the lives of people who need help and has inspired members of his dealership team to give of themselves as well."
Paul Miller, CEO of Paul Miller Ford in Lexington, Ky.'”Living in the heart of horse country, Miller donates significant time and money to equestrian-themed community projects like the Kentucky Horse Park and Equine Adoption Fund, as well as groups such as the "Making All Things Beautiful" project, for which Miller donated and helped plant 15,000 trees; the American Red Cross Host quarterly blood drives; Country Cares for St. Jude's Hospital, Light the Night events for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program; the Lexington Cancer Foundation; and the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center.
"For three generations, the Miller family has worked to improve the Lexington community," said Greg Wood, parts, services and sales regional manager at Ford Motor Company. "The family is devoted to serving Lexington by giving their time, energy, services and financial support. They support so many causes that help the city of Lexington and well-being of its citizens."
Ronnie Watkins, owner of Ronnie Watkins Ford in Gadsden, Ala.'”Among Watkins' many notable community-support efforts, his work to help underprivileged children and families is particularly worthy of recognition. A primary example is his work with the ESTEEM (Encouraging Students to Exhibit Excellent Minds) program. This project, which Watkins himself created and funded, helps build self-esteem in kids living in government-assisted housing who also achieve high marks in school. This program has been so successful that it has been named Alabama Program of the Year by the Alabama Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.
"Many of these kids had never been outside of Gadsden and some had never even been to a restaurant before they participated in Ronnie Watkins' ESTEEM program. Ronnie's dream has helped more than 300 disadvantaged students realize their potential in academics and given them experiences and life lessons they would not have had otherwise," said Ray Parrish, Ford Motor Company regional manager. "He rewards these kids with more than a pizza party, but rather with special life experiences. Students in ESTEEM have gone to the Children's Theatre and Civic Rights Museum in Birmingham, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville and many other places."