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Get Your Checkbooks Ready: the Aftermarket Needs You

The Aftermarket Foundation is preparing to hold its 20th annual pre-AAPEX golf outing on Oct. 31, the single-largest source of fundraising for this non-profit organization. The group also is getting ready to embark on a new, more public program to enhance donations to the Foundation.

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Amy Antenora has been reporting on the automotive aftermarket since 2002.

It’s often said that the Aftermarket Foundation is the industry’s best-kept secret. But that’s about to change.
 
Comprised completely of volunteer members who work to raise funds for aftermarket professionals who have fallen on hard times, the group is getting ready to embark on a new, more public program to enhance donations to the non-profit organization.
 
Founded in 1959, the prime movers in forming this early charitable organization were aftermarket pioneers — Moe Strauss and Charlie Unger of Pep Boys; Charles Weissman from American Auto; and Arthur Taubman from Advance Auto. In honor of much-loved manufacturer’s representative Ray Jesselson, the club name was later changed to the Ray Jesselson Benevolent Foundation and over the years again changed its name to the Automotive Foundation for the Aftermarket (AFFTA), evolving to become the Aftermarket Foundation as we know it today. Now in its 52nd year, the Aftermarket Foundation is the only charity whose sole purpose is to help those in the aftermarket industry in need of assistance.
 
On Monday, Oct. 31, just prior to the start of Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week in Las Vegas, the Aftermarket Foundation will hold its 20th annual golf outing. Funds raised at this event are the single-largest source of income for the foundation.  (This year’s event is already sold out, with a waiting list of those interested in participating.) The Foundation also receives significant funding from AAIA, MEMA and SEMA, as well as contributions from individuals and aftermarket companies. Beyond that, the Foundation is preparing for what it is says is a surefire new program to enhance donations this coming year.
 
A new PR committee chaired by Foundation board member Terry O’Reilly, of Pricedex, is in the process of revamping all of the Foundation’s older pieces of literature and creating a new PR program for the coming year.  In addition to revamping the Foundation’s website, the PR Committee is planning to personally reach out to more trade associations and also send out mass mailings to aftermarket companies, seeking their support.
 
“There are people out there who we could help, but they don’t know about us and we don’t know about them. We expect that to change with our new, enhanced program,” said Joe Mittelman, retired aftermarket veteran and member of the Foundation board.
 
True to its motto, “When There Is Nowhere Else to Turn, We Are There,” the Aftermarket Foundation is directly responsible for supporting the welfare of aftermarket professionals who have fallen on hard times and are in dire need of help. As Mittelman puts it, the Foundation is the “court of last resort” and can be the last salvation left for those who have exhausted all other avenues for financial aid.
 
Unlike many non-profits today, nearly 95 percent of the funds raised through the Aftermarket Foundation go to the recipients in need, as the all-volunteer organization has almost no overhead.  The generosity does not stop there, however. The Aftermarket Foundation stays connected to donation recipients, with each member of the Recipient Committee personally checking on the welfare and needs of assigned recipients on a regular basis.
 
“Some recipients will be with us for a short stay, just until they can get back on their feet. Others may be in for the long haul. Each case is different and treated individually,” Mittelman said. “I can assure you that the pleasure that all of us derive from being able to actually make a dramatic impact on a person’s life when they are at their very lowest is worth every minute that we each put into this effort.”
 
To get involved, visit the Aftermarket Foundation website at www.aftermarketfoundation.org.

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