Orinda Association Joins with Two Rotary Clubs to Help Others

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(Contributed Photo)
This 1974 Datsun 710 wagon was donated by Lou and Debbie Roessler. Debbie is a member of Moraga Rotary, one of the partner groups with Cars2ndChance. Instead of going to auction, the vehicle was repaired by D&H and sold to Adam Johnson (left), who purchased the car for his dad, Wayne Johnson (center). Wayne has cancer and had previously owned the same make and model years ago. D&H owner and co-creator of Cars2ndChance Dave Kemnitz is on the right.

    As nonprofit organizations continue to struggle financially in this COVID-19 era, the efforts of two Rotary clubs have not only helped their clubs’ service endeavors, but also those of a myriad of other nonprofits. The Orinda Association (OA) is the latest nonprofit to join Rotary in its fundraising enterprise.
    Cars2ndChance is a car auction program run by Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary and Clayton Valley Concord Sunrise Rotary. Both Cars2ndChance and the two Rotary clubs work with a variety of nonprofit partners to acquire donated cars that are then either fixed and sold or donated to auction. Various nonprofit partners procure the donated cars and receive 50% of the proceeds, while the Rotary clubs each garner 25%.
    Husband and wife team Dave and Mary Kemnitz, who own D&H Enterprises Automotive Services in Concord and are both involved with Rotary, conceived the program 15 years ago. It started when one of their customers asked about donating a car. They researched various car donation companies and were shocked to find that as much as 70% of the vehicle’s value went to administrative costs.
    “We thought we could do much better if we aligned with an auction company and ran the cars through our repair shop,” said Mary, who immediately discussed the possibility with her club, Clayton Valley Concord Sunrise Rotary. “They took this idea of ours and flew with it.”
    The couple, along with Clayton Rotary, formed Cars2ndChance. The organization added the Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary, where Dave is a member, in May 2020. “They really took us to the next level,” Mary added. Mary, Dave and other members of the two Rotary clubs donate their time to take care of the bookkeeping and other administrative tasks needed.
    “We work with Copart Auto Auction, the largest auction for cars in the world. They welcomed us with open arms, even though we’re small potatoes to them,” said Dave. “We only raised around $12,000 the first year, but it has just grown and grown. In 2019, we grossed $300,000.”
    Mary added, “Since May of 2020, we’ve helped raise over $50,000 for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.”
    Cars2ndChance has also fixed up donated vehicles and given them away to worthy causes, including 60 cars to people in Paradise, CA, devastated by that area’s 2018 wildfire.
    In November, Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary member Chris Laszcz-Davis approached the OA, where she is a board member, with the idea of participating in Cars2ndChance. The idea struck a chord with the board.
    “Over the past 15 years, several people have asked us about donating a car to the OA’s Seniors Around Town (SAT) program,” said OA Board Member and SAT founder Kate Wiley. “We researched the process only to find it too difficult or requiring more resources than we had at the time. But Cars2ndChance is just right to meet our needs. When someone donates a car to us, it gives the car a second chance to provide essential services to people.”
    Wiley noted that donating a vehicle, which doesn’t have to be running, is essentially a painless transaction for the donor. “Cars2ndChance takes care of everything – vehicle inspection, necessary repairs, title transfer – and the donor receives the tax write-off. It also gives donors the satisfaction of knowing they’ve helped three nonprofits and impacted the lives of many in our communities.”
    According to Wiley, people donating cars to the OA can designate a particular program if they prefer, or just allow the OA to determine where the funds are most needed. The organization’s programs include: SAT, which provides free transportation to appointments for Orinda seniors; the Fourth of July Parade; Public Forums; Orinda Volunteer Center; Orinda Classic Car Show and The Orinda News.
    “Working with Cars2ndChance has given new meaning to our lives,” said Mary. “It’s not so much the dollars we raise, but the lives we change,” added Dave.
    To donate a car to the OA, go to www.orindaassociation.org and click on the Cars2ndChance link. For further information, call the OA at 925.254.0800 or Cars2ndChance at 925.326.5868.

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