Editor’s note: National Auto Body Council Executive Director Chuck Sulkala on Friday shared with various collision repair industry leaders and trade press representatives a copy of a letter he’d sent Collision Week calling for donations to the Collision Industry Foundation’s Hurricane Harvey relief effort. He urged them to share it with the industry, and we’ve chosen to reprint it here with minor edits for those businesses looking for ways to help collision industry colleagues affected by the storm.
For those who aren’t familiar with the organization, the Collision Industry Foundation uses donations to buy replacement tools or other necessities for collision repair professionals affected by catastrophes. As Sulkala notes, it was very active after Hurricane Katrina; find out more about the CIF and how to donate here.
In other Hurricane Harvey news relevant to the industry, the Associated Press on Saturday covered the funeral of collision repairer Benito Cavazos, 42, one of Harvey’s few dozen confirmed victims. Learn about Cavazos here.
By Chuck Sulkala
There cannot be anyone left in America that, by now, has not seen the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. Ironically, I am sitting exactly where I was 12 years ago when Katrina hit and we started Katrina relief. I remember the tears and the families we helped from our industry then. Today, Harvey’s devastation is two to three times what it was during Katrina.
For us to sit back as a caring industry and do nothing is not what we are about. After Katrina, with the generosity of the industry, working through the Collision Industry Foundation, we provided gift cards from Walmart, helped with relocation expenses to other towns if needed, paid to get families back together since many were evacuated to shelters in different cities, provided tools so technicians could go to work again, and, in the end, tried to help those from our industry begin the process of helping themselves back from the depths of despair that comes with losing everything.
The Collision Industry Foundation has once again stepped up to do the right thing for those in our industry needing our help. And so, it is because of their effort and the work that is so desperately needed today, that I am reaching out to all of you, as individuals in our industry, to join with me in making a really Grand Gesture to help our fellow collision repairers. We, as an industry, stood tall and helped our own after Katrina. And through the Collision Industry Foundation (CIF) and this Grand Gesture effort, we will do that again for even more.
Today, I have made my personal donation of $1,000 to the Collision Industry Foundation knowing that, as with Katrina, all of these funds will be used specifically to help the technicians and their families who have been wiped out of everything except perhaps the wet clothes on their back.
Imagine seeing everything you worked your whole life for now covered in water, ruined. The treasures and the memories are now all gone. But life needs to begin again however with nothing except the skills you know and the desire to care for your family how does one do that without a place to work or the tools to even do that work?
I know businesses big and small will be making donations, and well they should, but I am specifically asking — no, challenging — each and every one of you as individuals who have made your living in this industry, to join with me in making this Grand Scheme a reality. For some, this may be a reach and seem a bit too much, but I ask you to just think about this, what would you hope that others might do if the roles were reversed for you or anyone in your family?
If you own a business, then give twice, first as a business and then as an individual that has benefited from this industry. This is a very small price to pay for those who have been trapped by a disaster not of their making.
I am not asking for this because you know me or don’t know me. It matters not whether we are friends or not, it is simply a case of doing the right thing for the right reason. Right now, people in this industry need our help. Will you please join with me to make a difference for their family?
To make your donation, please go to www.collisionindustryrelief.org
On their behalf, thank you.
Chuck Sulkala is the executive director of the National Auto Body Council.
National Auto Body Council Executive Director Chuck Sulkala is shown. (Provided by National Auto Body Council)
The Collision Industry Foundation donated equipment to collision repair professionals following Hurricane Katrina. (Provided by CIF; photo by Janet Chaney)