"Project Graduation" - an alcohol and drug-free all-night graduation celebration for high school seniors - drew over 93% of the Ironwood Ridge High School senior class in its inaugural year. Mary Snider, Project Graduation chair, attributes the success to the overwhelming support of community and local business.
|The dedicated team at 911 Collision Center shows off the "renovated" car given away at the all-night graduation party. |
"We received financial support and services from businesses throughout the community." Snider added: "The bottom line to kids was fun and the chance to win a beautiful car. Parents were happy that their graduates would be safe on what is traditionally a very dangerous night for teens."
One of the local businesses contributing to the evening's success was Tucson's 911 Collision Centers, co-owned by Michael Quinn. Quinn learned a lot about the collision repair industry from his previous employers Vince and Joyce Pitetti, Lumpkin Auto Body in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. That is where he also learned how to "give back." The Pitetti's philosophy was to share and give back to the community. Until his association with the Pitetti's, "I was the only charity in my life," reflected Quinn. "They taught me to look outside of myself and give to the community - everybody in the company gave."
That corporate philosophy has carried through the six-year-old, five-store conglomerate of 911 Collision Centers. In 2003, 911 Collision was a recipient of the National Autobody Council PRIDE Award.
|"We pimped the ride," said Michael Quinn, "and spruced up this 1999 Nissan inside and out."|
Quinn's participation began when Mary Snider, chairperson of Project Graduation, called him about a scratch on the rear bumper of the 1999 Nissan that had been donated by a Tucson car dealer to be given away in a drawing at the end of the all-night party. According to Snider, "we completely appreciated the generosity of the donation, but we noticed quite a few dings. That's when we contacted 911 Collision Centers to ask for their help."
"The scratch was the least of the car's problems," smiled Quinn. "The car was full of parking lot dents and the paint was really faded." In no time at all, Quinn had the car back at his shop to be revamped.
"When I was approached, I realized the opportunity that Mary was creating for our community to keep kids safe on one of the most dangerous nights. We had to participate. Once we examined the vehicle, we found there were over 60 dings and small dents. We repaired all the damages and then applied a custom paint job and graphics on the vehicle and customized the interior as well.
"We also contacted some of our vendor friends and were able to get new wheels and window tinting and a state-of-the-art sound system donated," added Quinn. "Our em-ployees volunteered their time to work on the car. It became a pet project for everyone. I am so proud of our staff, reaching out and helping others. That's part of our culture," Quinn added. "My staff really took the ball and ran with it. Everyone really had fun with this project."
The drawing for the car was at 5:30 a.m., at the end of the all-night party. Snider told Quinn that they had more participation all night than ever before, because of the chance to win the "hot" car.
"Without the added draw of the car, we would have had a lot of kids leave the party early - with the potential for getting into trouble," stated Snider.
Snider was amazed by the effect of the car project. "The kids were so excited; they checked the 911 Collision Centers website (www.911Collision.com) to watch the progress of 'their' vehicle on a daily basis. When we picked up the car, we couldn't believe it was the same car."
Snider added, "The chance of winning a car wasn't the only reason the students participated. In my opinion, the car was the catalyst for them to realize to what lengths their community would go to keep them safe."
Quinn, his young daughter, and several of the 911 Collision crew were on hand when the winning number was drawn by Quinn himself. As Quinn drew the number and the winner grasped the keys, Quinn boasted that we "Pimped the Ride" to a standing ovation of the 2004 graduates.
Quinn concluded: "We were grateful to be involved in Project Graduation. All the students were so excited."