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Charitable Capitalism: The More Business DriveWise Does, the Higher the Amount of Company Donations

By ANDREA ALEGRIA & MARK MADLER Staff Reporters This is a regular feature on philanthropic activities by Valley-area businesspeople and companies. On the fifth of each month, when Adam Slobin and business partner Bryan Weissman sit down to write out checks it is not to pay bills. Instead, the pair is making contributions to charities throughout the greater Los Angeles area from the proceeds of their car brokerage service, DriveWise Auto. The donations are a way for Slobin and Weissman to incorporate their personal values of philanthropy into their business venture. For every vehicle sale the pair brokers, they give $50 to $100 per car to the charity of choice of the buyer. “It is gratifying to know that we are helping cure cancer and autism, fight poverty, and provide services for the homeless and hungry,” said Slobin. Since starting DriveWise, with an office in Tarzana, nearly two years ago, Slobin and Weisman have donated $30,000 to 150 charities. DriveWise assists in new and used vehicle purchases and leases. The pair find the car, arrange financing, and coordinate trade-in vehicles and delivery of the new vehicle. In short, said Slobin, they do all the research and work necessary that people do not like to do. While the donations are certainly not a main reason why clients choose DriveWise it certainly is what makes the service unique. Why they chose to go with their business model is twofold. For one, Slobin and Weissman have been the guys that people turn to and were always willing to do extra work even if there was no return. Their personal charitable work has included the American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity. The other is that in a city that is so dependent on a car, they figured that they could sell cars while also helping out organizations that mattered to the buyer. The more business that DriveWise does, the higher amount gets donated to charity every month, Slobin said. “As a small company we are proud of that,” Slobin said. The Impact of Giving Seventeen high school graduates from Pacoima, Compton, Carson, Inglewood and Mission Hills were recently awarded the Payson Wolff Memorial Scholarship from El Nido Family Centers, an organization established in 1925 to help disadvantaged or at-risk children, youth and families. Unlike the typical scholarship recipients who have always been exceptional students and had the resources and support available to help them excel academically, these honorees have faced challenges that could easily have led them to give up and drop out of high school. And yet, “each of them defied the odds and have helped to dispel the stereotype of the inner city teen,” said Liz Herrera, Executive Director of the 84-year-old agency. El Nido Family Centers have nurtured and guided the honorees through their high school years helping them juggle school work with part time jobs, and other responsibilities. The 17 students were selected out of 80 applicants and were awarded between $1,000 and $1500 in Scholarship funds to help further their education. New Programs College of the Canyons was awarded a two-year $400,000 stimulus grant to help fund its Medical Lab Technician (MLT) program. The college was one of 17 in California to receive stimulus dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Economic Stimulus Program) that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in February. Recognizing the need for medical lab technicians in the region, the funds will allow the college to invest in a full-time instructor and supplies for a MLT program expected to start in January. Students who complete the two-year program will earn an associate of science degree. Community Beautification Los Angeles Neighborhood Housing Services, The Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, Councilman Dennis P. Zine, the Winnetka Neighborhood Council, and local businesses and community groups, joined forces recently to beautify one neighborhood bloc in Winnetka. Armed with paint brushes, brooms and shovels, over 250 volunteers helped make a visible difference to the block, restoring balance to an area that has been hard hit by the foreclosure crisis and weakened by economic hardship. The volunteers performed home repairs, debris removal, light landscaping and exterior house painting. The work was done as part of Neighborhood Pride Day organized by LA NHS. Feeding the Hungry The Valley Food Bank, which receives and distributes food to the hungry in Los Angeles County from a warehouse facility in Pacoima recently received $30,000 from The Grainger Foundation. The funds will help the Food Bank accomplish its mission at a critical time. The Food Bank has seen a 52 percent increase in demand for food assistance from January to June over the prior year while experiencing a 38 percent decrease in food donations over that same period. W.W. Grainger, Inc., with 2008 sales of $6.9 billion, is the leading broad line supplier of facilities maintenance products serving businesses and institutions in the United States, Canada, Mexico, China and Panama. Stepping Up for Children Employees of Good Swartz Brown & Berns, A Division of J.H. Cohn, recently raised more than $10,000 for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, through a kart-racing event in Sylmar. The employees raised donations from family, friends and colleagues who kart-raced at the MB2 Raceway track. “For 90 years, giving back to the community in which we live and work has been part of J.H. Cohn’s firm culture and we are proud to continue this tradition with our support of Children’s Hospital,” said Scott Sachs, CPA, Regional Managing Partner Greater Los Angeles. “During a time of economic uncertainty and when donations are down for a number of charities, we are proud that our employees went the extra mile to help raise much-needed funds. The event also gave our employees the chance to get together outside of the office for an enjoyable morning.” Upcoming Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers, Inc. (SDFHC) is currently seeking sponsors to participate in the 7th Annual Rubber Ducky Regatta, set for Saturday, October 10 at Castaic Lake. This year’s event will be held in conjunction with Castaic Days. The event is SDFHC’s premiere fundraiser of the year. All proceeds from the event will go toward patient care at SDFHC, which offers affordable, quality primary health care for residents of the Santa Clarita Valley. SDFHC makes a special effort to serve the uninsured and underinsured. Last year’s Rubber Ducky Regatta raised $40,000 that went directly toward patient care at the non-profit organization’s three health centers.

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