Cars2ndChance Raises Funds for Local Charities One Car at a Time

(Jacalyn Buettner, Photographer)
Dan Buettner drove “Dory” the Ford Escape on a ski trip to the Teton Mountain Range. The 2008 SUV has since begun a new life in Mexico after Dan’s mother Jacalyn donated the vehicle to Cars2ndChance.

    When Jacalyn Buettner decided it was time to get a new car for her son Dan, his 2008 Ford Escape hybrid “Dory” had been with the family for 12 years. The SUV had “been all around the West, and traveled to Utah, Idaho and Wyoming,” said Buettner. Its odometer registered 218,000 miles.
    But this was not the end of Dory’s story.
    “I knew Dory didn’t have big trade-in value,” said Buettner. As an Orinda Association board member, she was familiar with the Cars2ndChance program, the ease of donating and its financial impact for the Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary (LSR) and its non-profit recipients. Buettner thought, why not donate Dory, and request The Orinda Association and Seniors Around Town be beneficiaries?
    The Buettners donated Dory to the local Cars2ndChance program, which accepts all types of vehicles in any condition, including RVs, motorcycles and boats. Partner company D&H Automotive, owned by Mary and Dave Kemnitz for 28 years until their retirement last April, either reconditions an accepted vehicle or sends it to auction. The time span between donating and selling the car is usually six weeks.
    “We wanted to do more for our community and our Rotary,” said Mary Kemnitz on the initial motivation behind the program. “We learned many of the car donation companies had exorbitant administrative fees and very little of the proceeds from a car donation went back to the cause.”
    With the help of Rotary volunteers, Cars2ndChance maintains very little overhead costs. One hundred percent of vehicle donation proceeds, after the cost of repairs and a small administration fee, go toward helping local Bay Area communities and toward projects around the world through support for parent organization Rotary International.
    A special program with a powerful impact, “Cars for Paradise” reconditioned and then delivered 60 cars to the small California community in the aftermath of its devastating wildfire.
    Donors can enter vehicle information into the Cars2ndChance website portal at and will receive a response with instructions and a phone call, said Kemnitz.
    While donations are easier if the donor is in possession of the vehicle’s title, the program can also assist in obtaining a title from the DMV.
    Vehicles donated to Cars2ndChance are picked up almost immediately. If the vehicle is deemed worthy of reconditioning, D&H completes a 52-point safety inspection and brakes, tires and other safety items are usually replaced.
    Dory was reconditioned and sold on the auction block and now has a new home in Mexico.
    “This is a fabulous fundraising program. We work with over 80 non-profits,” said Kemnitz. “The beauty of working with us is that we do all the work – and split the proceeds with the non-profits.”
    Half of Dory’s proceeds, a little over $700, went to The Orinda Association. The other half was split between Clayton Valley and Lamorinda Sunrise Rotaries.
    Orinda Association board member of 10 years and longtime resident Chris Laszcz-Davis emphasized the value of Cars2ndChance, which donates over $200,000 each year.
    “It’s a win-win for everybody,” she said. “It all goes back to the community.”

Andrea Madison can be reached at

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