Coming Together For A Home of Hope

February 2nd, 2019 by

It’s a well-known fact at Hendrick Automotive Group that we can achieve more working together than independently, which is what motivated three dealerships in Duluth, Georgia to join forces on a community project. Their shared passion inspired them to grow a simple idea into a transformative gift and long-term partnership with a local women’s and children’s shelter.

Tafi Jaji, general manager at Rick Hendrick Chevrolet of Duluth, was looking for a nonprofit organization the dealership could get involved with to celebrate the 2018 holiday season. He started researching causes in the Duluth area and found Home of Hope, a support project at Gwinnett Children’s Shelter that affords displaced and homeless mothers and their at-risk children with residential care and stability. After his first meeting with the shelter’s executive director, Maureen Kornowa, he knew he had found much more than a one-time opportunity to give back; he had found a calling to make a difference and to share it with others.

“It lit us on fire,” Tafi said when describing the mission of Home of Hope at Gwinnett Children’s Shelter. The center not only provides residential care for homeless children and their mothers, but also serves displaced girls aging out of the foster care system. Home of Hope creates customized life plans for residents designed around their physical, emotional and educational needs as well as a plan of action for future success.

Immediately after Tafi’s first meeting with Maureen, he called his fellow general managers in the area and told them about the opportunity to do something great in the community. Rick Hendrick Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM of Duluth and Rick Hendrick Buick GMC Duluth were quick to agree to support such a worthy cause.

The three dealerships worked together with Maureen to find out what the facility really needed and how they could make the biggest impact. What started as an idea for a holiday toy drive in the dealership quickly grew into a major gift for the center. The three dealerships jumped at the chance to transform an unused office in the shelter into a special game room for older children and teens, who did not have space dedicated just for them. They also arranged to provide gifts for all the residents, including mothers, and a financial contribution to Home of Hope.

“They wanted to be engaged; they wanted to be part of it. Rick Hendrick has proven to me that it’s not just a dealership, it is a group of fantastic individuals who want to make a long-lasting impact in their community,” said Barry Sanders, a member of Home of Hope’s board of directors.

The Hendrick teammates worked quickly to pull the project together in under a month. They engaged the Hendrick Automotive Group marketing department and their senior account manager, Ken Worth, to help put together a marketing plan to further spotlight Home of Hope on the dealerships’ websites and in local media. The dealerships also engaged their partners and vendors to help with the supplies, labor, TVs and audio visual equipment for the room. Hendrick Motorsports also donated memorabilia to decorate the room in a racing theme to match the driving-focused video games.

Many Hendrick teammates were on site to unveil the new game room to residents at Home of Hope.

The room was unveiled as a surprise to residents at a family event on December 18, 2018, where Home of Hope was also surprised with a $35,000 check from the dealerships to kick off the partnership. Rick Hendrick Chevrolet of Duluth, Rick Hendrick Buick GMC Duluth and Rick Hendrick Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM of Duluth enjoyed the project so much they have already committed to supporting other Home of Hope events in the future.

“This is a partnership that is going to help catapult us this year into helping a greater number of kids, in a more impactful way,” said Maureen.

The desire to give back was the original spark, and the passion and teamwork of everyone involved helped this project grow to exceed anyone’s initial expectations. How can you use the power of a team to amplify your impact?