This week the Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA), Chicagoland's new-car dealer association, donated $1,500 to The Bridge Teen Center based in Orland Park, Illinois. The donation came in conjunction with Planet Honda and the Chicagoland Dealers Care program, an initiative that matches CATA dealer donations of up to $1,5000 for local charitable organizations. Planet Honda has been an active supporter of The Bridge Teen Center for nearly a decade since the center opened in 2010.
The Bridge Teen Center offers free afterschool programs to teenagers, grades seven to 12, ranging from culinary demonstrations and music lessons to homework support and community service projects. The center's holistic afterschool programs and weekend entertainment events are designed around the interests and needs of teens in the Chicago suburbs, providing a safe and positive environment away from negative influences.
"The CATA's Chicagoland Dealers Care program not only helps our member dealers' dollars stretch a little further for impactful organizations, but it also helps to put a spotlight on new-car dealers' generosity and charitable work within their communities," said CATA Chairman Bill Haggerty. "We were completely mesmerized and blown and away by the quality of The Bridge Teen Center in regards to its facilities, educational opportunities and entertainment programming."
The Bridge Teen Center has served more than 8,000 different teens and families from 128 Chicagoland and northwest Indiana communities since its inception nearly a decade ago. Just last year, the center set a new record of serving a total of 1,521 different students. Those students checked in at The Bridge Teen Center more than 11,500 times throughout the year. Currently, attendance at The Bridge Teen Center ranges from 250 to 450 students per week.
"The Bridge Teen Center is built by the community, for the community," said Rob Steinmetz, founder and director of marketing and development for The Bridge Teen Center. "The car dealer community has risen up to embrace this place, and they want to support us because it's the right thing to do - not because they want their logo advertised on our walls. We're extremely humbled by that."
Co-founder Priscilla Steinmetz echoed the sentiment. "The support from car dealers has been amazing; they pour so much positivity into the lives of our students. We even have a mock automotive service department at the center where we pull cars in and students interested in the automotive technician trade can get hands on experience," she said. "Many of these sessions are led by service directors within the local car dealer community; they simply donate their time."
The CATA has been a longtime supporter of local nonprofit organizations like The Bridge Teen Center. Since its inception in 2008, the Chicagoland Dealers Care program has donated more than $100,000 to local charitable organizations supported by new-car dealers. Additionally, since 1992, the association has raised more than $53 million for significant Chicago-area charities during the annual First Look for Charity black-tie event, held the evening before the Chicago Auto Show opens to the public.