I’ve always believed that independent auto upholstery shops – like all businesses – should give back to the communities in which they operate. Doing so can strengthen a shop’s reputation and attract more customers. But, more importantly, it helps strengthen the social fabric in which we live.
I’d like to acknowledge two shops that recently donated a little bit of time, effort and money to making a difference in the lives of others.
1. Gillin Custom Design in Middletown, New York recently collaborated with other members of the Saturday Night Cruisers Car Club to bring a little bit of joy to a young boy battling muscular dystrophy.
Cody Eisenring, 12, loves to go to car shows and cruises. He has become a familiar face among the car clubs. […]
At the cruises and shows, his parents push Cody around in a strollerlike chair. As he gets older it’s getting tougher, but since the cars bring him so much joy, they don’t want to deprive him of that. So they do what they can.
President of the Saturday Night Cruisers, Mike Muntz, put out the feelers about acquiring a power chair and it paid off. […]
The chair, donated by Herb Crosby, was fully customized. Gilbert Monge of Gillin Custom Design in Middletown did the upholstery on the seat, Skip Crossman donated the flame graphics and Kevin Anderson of A&R Body Shop in New Windsor who donated the paint and bodywork.
The day of the show, participants and club members stuck it out through a ferocious storm of high winds and heavy rain that blew through. Everyone stayed in support of Cody. The expression on Cody’s face when he was presented with the chair was worth the wait. [more]
2. Jerry’s Auto Upholstery in Fort Collins, Colorado recently volunteered to install a convertible top on a Mazda Miata donated to single mother Karen Wilson through Project Self-Sufficiency (PS-S). Finally having access to a car has opened a world of opportunity for Karen and her daughter.
Karen describes her story:
Until April 2012, my then 8-year-old child and I had been walking and using the local bus system to get to work and school and do errands while pulling a wheeled cart behind us to carry our belongings. We often found ourselves trudging through deep snow and having to leave the house three and four hours before our scheduled appointment times just to make our bus transfers — appointments that normally would take no more than 20 or 30 minutes to get to when one has an actual vehicle. With frozen hands and feet, we would sing songs and state positive affirmations to get us to our destination. Boy, talk about a humbling experience — an experience that Nikolle and I no longer have to tolerate thanks to the donated 1992 Mazda Miata we received through Project Self-Sufficiency.
Now Nikolle and I can spend less time negotiating the bus system and more time engaging in meaningful activities. For example, Nikolle has enjoyed the Boundless Children’s Fund through PS-S, which has funded several art classes for her at the Loveland Art Museum. I was able to increase my work hours since I no longer have to schedule my employment around my ability to get a ride. Having my own car also gave me the opportunity to attend a computer workshop in preparation for starting my business degree at Front Range Community College this fall — an education I could not have considered without the help of PS-S. Nikolle and I are well on our way to self-sufficiency with affordable housing offered by PS-S, a cute, reliable car, and the support of a community of people who believe in giving everyone a chance to succeed. [more]
In hard economic times like these, it’s absolutely necessary that neighbors rally to help one another. And who better to lead the charge than small-businesses who are every much a part of their local communities as the people themselves?
I’d like to encourage every independent auto upholstery shop to follow the examples set forth by Gillin Custom Design and Jerry’s Auto Upholstery. Let’s continue to use our unique skills to help our neighbors.
JPM Coachworks says
I’m part of my local S2000 owners club. As such, I offer a replacement service for those tops. I don’t care for top installations otherwise. The installation process for the S2000 top is quite lengthy and costs a decent amount so not everyone can afford it. A number of years ago, I took the time to write a step by step DIY installation guide for the international forum which stays active. This September, I’m actually hosting an installation day at my shop where I’ll be helping a number of local owners install a new convertible top. I do it as an enthusiast but also because it’s always nice to help others when you can. Most of those participating wouldn’t have been able to afford a top replacement otherwise.
Not quite the donation the shops in the article provided, but something nonetheless.
Steve Bobst says
As the owner of a part time shop, I was honored to have the opportunity to parter with the Make-A-Wish foundation to grant a wish for a kidney disease survivor. They provided the funds for parts and I provided the shop and labor to customize the suspension, body, and interior of his ’88 Chevy pickup. Gregg got to design and help with the build. To top it off we had Bob Bond add a “kidney survivor” ribbon in the hand painted pinstriping.
Even though the project interrupted my “cash flow” for a few months, I would do it all over again. I am also careful to watch from a distance and let Gregg take credit for his truck. I was glad to help and I know that, should the need arise, the people of this community will be there for me.
Touches home, awesome to know a shop in my town has stepped up and everywhere else !!
We don’t get approached for big items like those, but around here there are always benefits for cancer patients, or fund-raisers for various topics. I keep several wooden stool kits on hand (the build-yourself kind) and will do custom tops for them to be auctioned or raffled. We donated a pair of Cardinals stools to a local Christian School for their fundraiser, and recently donated a second pair to a memorial auction for a young girl who died last year. I was told that pair of stools netted them $275.
Helping out comes in many forms, not always auto-related. Last year I donated redoing the goalpost bumpers for my son’s Junior Football League program. They are always hardup for money, and my saved them a few hundred dollars.
Another little thing I’ve always done is help the local emergency services agencies with small annoyances. The ambulance crews will stop by with bag handles or zippers or other repairs to be done. Or firefighters will bring their turnout clothing to me for seam repairs or other work. I never charge for the quick necessaries (new seats for the fire truck, yes I charge). Instead, I just tell them all to listen close and if there’s ever a fire or a man down at PRO Stitch, to hustle their butts and get out to me quick.
Nadeem Muaddi says
That’s one thing I’ve always enjoyed about the auto trim community – unlike some other automotive fields that have a rough reputation, ours has always been characterized by kind, generous and family-oriented people.
Gilbert Monge says
Wow, was going through the site and came across this. We love helping out in our community, it was such a rewarding feeling when I saw the look on Cody’s face when he saw his new chair. We feel it’s important to be active in our community. It can be as simple as sponsoring a trophy or a local cruise night….We all need to do our part to keep the hobby alive.
We also donated a full custom interior for a project to benefit the wounded warriors (“The Gambler”) 1954 Pontiac featured in Street rodder magazine. We are currently working on a project to benefit “Make A Wish”, a full interior on a 1949 Ford F-100 called the Wish Hauler.
You can find information about both on Facebook. You guys keep up the great work, I enjoy The Hog Ring!
Nadeem Muaddi says
Thanks Gilbert. Keep up the great work – you make us proud!
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