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Ford support for The Children’s Center helps kids, families rewrite their future

Photo Credit Keith Tollman compressed

Editor Note: During the North American International Auto Show, Detroit Unspun/The HUB will bring you stories about what the auto industry is doing to help transform Detroit and its neighborhoods.

For the last 25 years Ford Motor Co. has been helping Detroit’s children and their families rewrite their future as presenting sponsor of AutoGlow, which benefits The Children’s Center.

untitledIt’s a grand event that follows the black-tie Charity Preview the night before the North American International Auto Show opens to the public. This year about 1,000 people enjoyed a strolling dinner, dessert and drinks and many participated in an auction.

The fun is only a small part of the night. AutoGlow is the largest fundraiser for The Children’s Center and directly supports its mission to help children and families shape their own futures. Last year the party raised more than $250,000 to support the work of The Children’s Center, an 85-year-old organization founded by the late Sen. James Couzens.

“Raise a glass of champagne with us as we salute the courageous and resilient children and families we have been able to serve because of loyal supporters like you,” read the invitation.

The evening was hosted by Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford and his wife, Lisa, and Ford President and CEO Mark Fields and his wife, Jane. Ford Motor Co. has supported The Children’s Center for all of its 85 years.

L-R: Renee Godfrey, corporate alliances Manager, Ford Motor Co.; Mark Fields, president and CEO. Ford Motor Co.,  Jane Fields; Richard Marschall;  Deborah Windey director of Corporate Alliances and Executive Services, Ford Motor Co.; Debora Matthews, CEO, The Children’s Center; Lisa Ford; Bill Ford, chairman Ford Motor Co.; Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund; Tammy Zonker, chief  philanthropy officer, The Children's Center, and Renee Prewitt, board chair, The Children's Center

L-R: Renee Godfrey, corporate alliances Manager, Ford Motor Co.; Mark Fields, president and CEO. Ford Motor Co., Jane Fields; Richard Marschall; Deborah Windey director of Corporate Alliances and Executive Services, Ford Motor Co.; Debora Matthews, CEO, The Children’s Center; Lisa Ford; Bill Ford, executive chairman Ford Motor Co.; Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund; Tammy Zonker, chief philanthropy officer, The Children’s Center, and Renee Prewitt, board chair, The Children’s Center

“This is an unbelievable party,” says Melissa Bunker, public relations coordinator for Campbell and Company, which works with Ford and its events team to raise the maximum number of dollars for one of the largest, most diverse and comprehensive frontline child-serving agencies in Michigan.

The center supports 7,500 children in the Detroit metro area to help them achieve health, hope, and healing. Based in Midtown it has more than 20 programs to help children with physical and mental health.

The Grosse Pointe and Detroit Rotary help support a boutique inside the center where families and children can get clothing, toys and necessities. A pantry supplies food. Teams of counselors, art therapists and allied health professionals help children navigate foster care, deal with physical and sexual abuse and receive medical and dental services.

Other automotive sponsors of AutoGlow included suppliers BASF, Denso, Harman International, Henniges Automotive, Fisher & Company, Oakley Industries, Gage Products, Gonzalez Production Systems, Nexteer Automotive and Piston Automotive.

Non-auto Detroit area sponsors included Tweddle Group, Team Detroit, BHPI (Behavioral Health Professionals Inc.), Huntington Bank, Jackson Dawson Communications and the Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss law firm.

Ford’s involvement with The Children’s Center doesn’t stop with the party on Charity Preview night.

For two years in a row the automaker has presented Tour de Fork in mid-September, delighting food lovers and Detroit lovers alike. Three hundred guests dined on sweet and savory samplings from metro Detroit chefs, along with beer, wine and cocktails — as well as listened to some of Detroit’s best musical entertainment.

Both events help The Children’s Center work with vulnerable children who must overcome the trauma associated with abuse, neglect and poverty so they are empowered to shape their own futures.

– Photo credit: Keith Tollman

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