The Florida Automobile Dealers Association, or FADA, has created a fund to help pay for food, clothing and shelter for dealership employees whose lives and jobs were disrupted by Hurricane Charley.
FADAs initial contribution of $100,000 will be made available starting the week of Aug. 30. The fund will be operated through the National Automobile Dealers Associations Charitable Foundation. FADA is asking members for donations.
FADA staff members will meet with dealer principals in the 25 Florida counties hit by the hurricane and will award money to those most seriously affected.
Florida dealer Conrad Darby, chairman of General Motors national dealer council, says he will ask GM for a cash donation. GM already gave the American Red Cross a cash donation, gasoline-electric hybrid pickups that double as mobile power generators, and three Hummer H2s.
Darby has three dealerships in Sarasota, Fla., near where Hurricane Charley came ashore on Aug. 13. As many as 1,000 Floridians who either are employees of dealerships, or businesses that support dealerships, need assistance, Darby estimates.
One dealership group, Palm Automotive Group, in Punta Gorda, Fla., had 260 employees and all of its buildings destroyed in the hurricane. Most employees will be out of work until a dealership is built.
Corporate donors can specify how the funds they give are dispersed. For example, an automaker can earmark its funds only for employees of dealerships that handle its brands, Darby says.
I would like to see us focus on those who help us earn a living, Darby says. He notes that similar funds already have been started for other industry workers, such as emergency workers, schoolteachers and others.
Darby said dealers are in danger of losing dealership employees thrown out of work. We dont want these people going somewhere else, Darby says. Theres enough work for roofers for the next 10 years.