Mike’s Auto Body Gave Away 100 Cars in 21 Years, Changing Countless Lives

For 21 years, Mike’s Auto Body gave away vehicles through its nationally-acclaimed Benevolence Program.

When Crash Champions announced it was acquiring Mike’s Auto Body (MAB) in June, many people throughout the Bay Area thought about MAB’s nationally acclaimed Benevolence Program.

It became part of the brand at Mike’s Auto Body as the company and its owners, the Rose family, gave away exactly 100 vehicles to deserving families, individuals and nonprofit organizations over the past 21 years.

The goal has always been to give people a hand up as opposed to a handout with the gift of transportation, and the MSO achieved that mission with every vehicle it presented to a deserving recipient.

In 2001, Mike’s Auto Body began giving refurbished cars to people in need. The very first recipient was a single mom with two children. Reporter Wayne Freedman from Channel 7 ABC News reported on the presentation and broadcast the story on the evening news. It quickly became an annual tradition, as Freedman and his news team reported on every presentation throughout the years during the holiday season, along with more and more media that flocked to the feel good story.

Over the years, Mike’s Auto Body got more people involved in its Benevolence Program, including vendors, technicians, car rental companies and insurance partners. The vendors donated products and their services, the technicians at Mike’s Auto Body donated their time and skills, and the insurance and car rental companies donated the vehicles.

The vehicles donated were considered totaled, but by refurbishing them and returning them to their pre-accident condition, they looked brand new.

Mike’s Auto Body made its first presentations from 2001 through 2006 at its Concord, CA, location, with a one-year exception in Brentwood, CA. Since then, it has held car presentations at some of its shops in the East Bay, as well as at other locations, including in conjunction with the U.S Coast Guard’s CPOA in Alameda, CA, on the pier in front of the USS Hornet Museum.

The Benevolence Program director at Mike’s Auto Body is Sal Contreras, who has been involved with every car presentation since the program’s inception and is considered the Benevolence Ambassador.

"We always say that at Mike’s, we are providing 'a gift of charity wrapped in dignity,'" Contreras said. “These deserving people are working towards making a better life for their families; all they need is reliable transportation to make it happen.

"Early on, Mike [Rose] said he wished he could give 100 cars to families; well, we achieved Mike’s dream in December of 2021," Contreras said. "We presented the 100th car to a single mom who had been struggling to raise her family without a car. The Benevolence Program came full circle, as our first recipient was a single mom raising her family.”

The Rose family made the Benevolence Program part of their lives, and it was quickly ingrained into their DNA.

“We feel very fortunate to be involved with such a wonderful program and are very excited to be able to give back to the area communities that have supported us for the past 50 years,” owner Mike Rose said. “After receiving hundreds of applications over the years and reading the heartbreaking stores, we only wish that we could do more. But hopefully, with increased publicity of our Benevolence Program, other shops will adopt a similar program of their own.”

“As a family-founded company, we have always prioritized philanthropic initiatives, in particular those that most impact our neighbors and the community organizations they rely on,” said Brennan Rose, CEO of Mike’s Auto Body. “To this end, we could not be prouder to celebrate our 100th vehicle donation as part of our Benevolence Program. For more than two decades, this program has been a staple of our charitable giving, and as we transition under the Crash Champions name and banner, we look forward to finding new and creative ways to give back to the communities where we operate.”

CFO Ragen Ortland-Rose was a major force behind MAB’s Benevolence Program.

"We never imagined that the program would grow as it did,” she said. “Our people and the community rallied around it, as the power of giving grew exponentially. We’ve always stressed quality in everything we do, and the program illustrates that. We enabled so many worthy people to improve their lives, and that’s why it gained so much momentum.

"Other body shops reached out to us and started their own programs, so the giving spread, and today our program will live through other shops all over the country," Ortland-Rose continued. "We know that Crash Champions will continue our legacy in some form because they share our passion for helping others. My father and my mother stressed that this is important, and that’s why we did it every year for 21 years.

"When we gave away our 100th vehicle, we did not realize that it would be the last within our program, but now it is fitting and a number that all of us can easily remember!" Ortland-Rose concluded. "Thanks to everyone involved, including employees, insurance partners, vendors and the nonprofit organizations that helped us find worthy recipients over the years.”

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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