The festivities were kicked off by Benevolence Program Coordinator Sal Contreras, who welcomed the 100-plus attendees. A ribbon-cutting ceremony followed with CFO Ragen Ortland, CEO Brennan Rose and Vallejo Chamber President and CEO James Cooper.
At every Mike's Benevolence presentation, there is an invocation by Contreras followed by a performance of “America the Beautiful” by the American 113 Legion Post from Napa, featuring bagpipe player and Mike’s Auto Body technician Kristopher Muse. The St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School choir then sang the national anthem under the direction of Ryan Lee.
The big moment of the day was when Mason received a 2016 Hyundai Elantra that was completely restored by the team members at the Vallejo location, all of whom donated their time. Mason did four tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, is married and has a 5-month-old daughter. He was wounded in action and suffers from PTSD. Before receiving the vehicle, he often had to walk to and from his job.
Several other speakers and sponsors made presentations during the ceremony. Mike's Auto Body Marketing Director Dane Dearlove shared the shop’s story of Benevolence, Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan welcomed Mike's to the city, Assemblymember Tim Grayson (14th District) presented the Rose family with a plaque, and East County Veterans Support Services founder/CEO Josie Monaghan and Hertz Area Manager Manny Bernal spoke prior to the presentation of the 2018 Benevolence car to Mason.
Dearlove discussed the importance of the company's Benevolence program and its role in the Bay Area.
"We are making history today with our Benevolence Program. Benevolence is just a word, [and] talk is cheap, but Mike's Auto Body puts action behind its words to make it work. It starts at the top and works its way down, which means that many of our employees and vendors get involved. We do this to make a real difference in the communities where we do business for all of the right reasons, and it's now become a part of our legacy,” Dearlove said.
“After sharing Ryan’s story, we all agreed Ryan is worthy of receiving the Benevolence car this year," Contreras said. "As a veteran combat Marine, Ryan has honored our country with four deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. By receiving this car, Ryan will not have to walk or take the bus to work anymore.”