CIF Gala 2024: Charity Event Raises Awareness, Funds for Collision Repairers in Crisis

The Collision Industry Foundation collects and distributes money to members of the industry affected by disaster.

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Pictured, left to right, are Scott Walton, The Sherwin Williams Company; Mandy Wynn, DCR Systems; and “Collisionista” Petra Schroeder.

Over the last two decades, the Collision Industry Foundation (CIF) has relied on contributions from collision repair businesses and individuals to aid hundreds of industry members in times of crisis. On Jan. 16, CIF hosted its 13th annual charity event, “Cocktails for a Cause,” in Palm Springs, CA, the day prior to the Collision Industry Conference (CIC). Nearly 200 attendees were at the function, many of whom were first-time supporters.

See a photo gallery of gala attendees here.

“There were a lot of people who drove this initiative and made the event successful, including co-chairs Kelly Broderick and Cheryl Boswell, as well as Petra Schroeder,” said Dan Risley, president of CIF and vice president of quality repair and market development at CCC Intelligent Solutions.

Broderick, sales director of strategic accounts at The Sherwin-Williams Company, joined CIF’s board in 2013 as a trustee and later served as vice president. Although she retired from the board in 2022, Broderick remains involved in the organization.

“The annual CIF event is simply a great time to connect with others and raise funds for individuals within the industry we all love and belong to,” she noted.

Broderick added the event has grown over the past several years.

“I am happy to have been involved in that progression,” she said. “I appreciate those who come to the event, sponsor it and spread the word. It has been a tremendous way for CIF to give back.”

Broderick said many collision repairers have grown up in the industry, and CIF is a great organization that needs support and praise.

“Over the past 10 years, I’ve been privileged to raise funds for colleagues -- many of whom have lost their livelihoods and need help from hurricanes, fires, COVID-19, etc.,” she said. “It takes minimal effort for something that means the world to people.”

Boswell, CFO of DCR Systems, served on CIF’s board for nine years and now volunteers for the organization. She and Broderick have co-chaired the annual fundraiser for many years and continue to do so, although they no longer serve on the board.

“It’s our annual fundraiser where we raise funds to assist industry members who have experienced a natural disaster so they can get back to work,” Boswell explained. “Our event includes great networking opportunities, a drawing for prizes and a live auction.”

She said CIF is fortunate to have many sponsor the cause.

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“Attending the gala, sponsoring CIF and spreading the word are all ways you can help,” Boswell shared. “We want to make sure everyone knows that CIF exists for them!”

“Interest and support in the event are growing,” said “Collisionista” Petra Schroeder, CIF’s administrator and a member of the organization’s Board of Trustees. “At the same time, it is great to have familiar faces attend.”

Schroeder noted the charity event is an important part of raising money and awareness to further CIF’s mission to provide emergency relief to collision repair professionals who have experienced significant losses due to natural disasters or other catastrophes. At one time, it was planned as the primary fundraiser. In 2021, the CIF Annual Donor program was instituted, allowing individuals and companies to donate throughout the year.

“The awareness that we create by having these events is priceless because more people learn about CIF and what we do,” said Schroeder. “As a result, we receive commitments for the Annual Donor program.”

In addition to monetary donations, Schroeder said the industry has helped spread awareness about CIF in various ways, such as liking and sharing social media posts. In recent years, birthday fundraisers have been initiated on Facebook, money has been raised through office competitions, and other creative ideas have been developed.

“There are many ways CIF can benefit from these initiatives,” said Schroeder. “It just takes a company to come up and execute ideas.”

CIF Treasurer Jim Ocampo, national strategic accounts sales manager for Axalta Coating Systems, said he always enjoys the evening of the CIF charity event.

“It’s refreshing to see everyone come together and contribute to a worthy cause,” said Ocampo. “While ‘Cocktails for a Cause’ is important to our fundraising efforts, the evening is about bringing awareness to CIF's mission.”

During the evening, Ocampo handed out auction items and prizes with Paul Hill, vice president of sales and marketing for Headlights.com, which sells through the Original One Parts and Headlights Depot brand. Hill began volunteering for CIF in 2022 and joined the board of trustees the following year.

“The highlight for me is always the opportunity to be the auctioneer,” recalled Hill. “Standing up on the stage and seeing such a great crowd support CIF is an amazing feeling.”

Hill said CIF is the one charity singularly focused on assisting great individuals in the collision industry in their time of need.

“Once I understood the organization’s mission, I knew I needed to help CIF succeed,” he said.

“One of the many things that I love about the collision industry is how we all come together for a cause,” noted Nick Callum, business development manager and platform manager for Headlights.com. “The CIF gala highlights that perfectly.”

Callum recently joined CIF’s Board of Trustees and he and Hill co-chair a new committee focused on CIF awareness.

“I have always gone out of my way to help people the best I can,” he shared. “Joining CIF has allowed me to align with other like-minded individuals and contribute in a larger capacity.”

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Kurt Lammon, president of Polyvance, is a new CIF Board of Trustees member who has donated to the cause and attended prior events for the past few years. This year, he and Cindy Reeves, vice president of sales at Enterprise Mobility, checked in those who hadn't pre-registered.

“It feels good to volunteer because you know your efforts are going to aid others,” said Lammon. “It also gives you the feeling of the industry being like a close-knit family.”

Lammon said it’s a pretty small industry and he has noticed several individuals make job changes thanks to the network they built volunteering.

“[CIF] can be good for your career, too!” he added.

Jeff Wildman, BASF’s expert for the automotive aftermarket industry, has been a CIF trustee for seven years and served on several committees.

“With the increasing frequency of weather-related incidents, I’d like to think that people remember our mission and spread the word to collision repair professionals in distress that CIF is available to provide assistance,” he said.

Schroeder encourages people to reach out when they learn about someone in an emergency.

“The organization still does not receive enough applications when there is disastrous flooding, hurricanes and other damage,” she explained. “It's very rewarding to give back but we need to find victims.”

For more information about CIF, visit www.collisionindustryfoundation.org or email collisionindustryfoundation@gmail.com.

Second photo: Pictured, left to right, are Chris White, KECO; Michael Bradshaw, K&M Collision; Barry Dorn, Dorn’s Body & Paint; Amber Alley, Barsotti’s Body & Fender; and Aaron Schulenburg, SCRS.

Third photo: Pictured, left to right, are Kurt Lammon, Polyvance; Sabrina Thring, Driven Brands, and Jim Ocampo, Axalta.

Stacey Phillips Ronak

Columnist
Stacey Phillips Ronak is an award-winning writer for the automotive industry and a regular columnist for Autobody News based in Southern California.

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