Award Winner

I hope you realize what a blessing it is to live here.

In 2003 I was managing 3 automotive dealerships in the Los Angeles area when I was asked to take over running Gresham Ford as well. At first I saw this as just a temporary assignment to get the organization running smoothly and profitably without causing too much disruption to my life. But there were plans bigger than mine in the works.

I soon fell in love with the people of Gresham and Portland. Everyone I met had a warmth and friendliness I hadn't experienced anywhere else. I eventually learned to love the rain, but Iím still not fond of the Gorge winds. It wasnít long before I gave up the dealerships in Los Angeles, we sold our house and moved to Gresham to make this our home.

I felt the city had adopted me, and I wanted to return the blessing. When a customer mentioned in passing that there were, at the time, more than 4,000 people in Gresham going hungry, my staff and I took an afternoon and went door-to-door collecting food for SnoCap, the regional food bank. Later I learned a lady working for us had recently overcome homelessness through the help of Cathe Wiese and My Fatherís House. I began to see how small organizations all over the city were truly making a difference in the lives of others. Helping them became my obsession. We met as a staff to discuss how we as a company could do more to help the community than just run an honest business. Our Parts Manager, Mike Amato, suggested starting a fund where everyone on staff could contribute a portion of their pay to help people as the needs arise. The employee fund has helped pay for things like medical bills for a family in the community whose child needed life saving surgery and to replacing a transmission in a van for a family that had just gotten off welfare.

A few years ago we decided to get our customers involved and started our "Community Support Program." We donate $100 with the purchase of any new or used vehicle, and 10% of all service work, parts and labor, in the customerís name to the charity of their choice. As a result, we have been able to help literally hundreds of different organizations, improve lives throughout the region and the nation. Here is a list of some of the charities we have been able to help.

I am honored and humbled to be a part of this wonderful city. Thank you for allowing me and my staff to serve you.

Bess Wills,
General Manager

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