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Classic Chevrolet Sparks Future Careers

Oct 25, 2012 01:59PM ● By tina

Classic Chevrolet Sparks Future Careers

When U.S. Representative, Joe Barton (R-Ennis) was approached by Anne Weydeck, Transitional Liaison for the Arlington ISD, to discuss ways to give at risk teens a viable path forward in life, the conversation quickly led to the automotive industry.  Anne Weydeck suggested a program designed to get kids familiar with the automotive repair industry. “We wanted to set these kids on a path towards a productive and rewarding career,” explained Weydeck.  It didn’t take Representative Barton long to think of the perfect partner to help.  “I’ve known Tom Durant (owner of Classic Chevrolet) for a long time,” said Barton, “I knew he would jump in to help.” And when Tom and wife Susan Durant decide to tackle a project (especially one involving children), it’s well known that the Classic employees will quickly spring into action.  Within just weeks of the idea, the AISD identified approximately 15 kids from Hutchinson Junior High and Carter Junior High to enter a 10-week program designed to inspire and motivate them to consider a career in the auto industry.  And that’s when the employees of Classic Chevrolet took the reins of the project now known as “Life’s Garage.”

In the area of community service, Tom Durant, owner of Classic Chevrolet in Grapevine, as well as 9 other dealerships, has a distinguished record, especially in support of organizations that focus on youth, including Make A Wish Foundation, MDA, The Boys Club, and Ninos de Mexico and Big Brothers Big Sisters. In just two fundraisers (2010 and 2011), the Classic Chevrolet Employees Charity Fund raised $170,000 for local charities which Tom and Susan Durant matched for a total of $340,000, benefiting organizations such as Christ’s Haven for Children, The Angel Fund of Trinity High School, Sevenfold Peace Foundation, and GRACE.  And just this week, Classic held a charity golf tournament that is expected to exceed even the last few years’ efforts. 

Now as a partner with the AISD and the “Life’s Garage” program, Classic employees enjoy the ability to personally interact with the young students. Wednesday’s event held in the service department of Classic Chevrolet gave the students a hands-on experience with oil and filter changes and how to change a tire. Mike Zorn, Service Director of Classic, led the discussion with an infectious enthusiasm that demonstrated his love of the job.  Rather than a dry and tedious lesson, Zorn kept the session full of personal stories, and explained real benefits of mastering the techniques of basic car repair.  The mechanics also spoke to the kids one on one, answering all of their questions and showing obvious pride in their profession.  “Hopefully this experience will rub off,” said Zorn.  Everyone here at Classic really does love coming to work and being the best at what we do.  If just one kid sees that as motivation to learn the skills and reap the rewards, that’s fulfilling.”

Representative Barton could not agree more.  “We hope to expand this program to all of Tarrant Country, then state-wide, and perhaps nationally.  Even in just this short time, we’ve seen some of these kid’s grades improve already.  It’s inspiring.”  Barton also could not praise the employees of Classic enough.  “The Classic employees have completely taken ownership of this, making it their project.  I can’t thank them enough.” 

Pictured left to right in top photo: Mike Zorn, Classic Chevrolet Service Director; Joe Barton, U.S. Representative R-Ennis; Mario Moreno, Classic Chevrolet service technician, and AISD students with Anne Weydeck, Transitional Liaison for the Arlington Independent School District.