On Friday, September 2nd, a conference call was set up to discuss the assistance options for those ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. “Over a hundred people from all facets of the industry were on or tried to get on the call,” stated Chuck Sulkala, Executive Director of the National Auto Body Council (NABC). “The result of the call is that NABC will spearhead an effort to relocate ANYONE in the collision industry who has either been displaced or who now finds that he or she doesn’t have a job.

“It’s important to note that the objective is not simply moving people from one location to another. The goal is to help our people with no home or job to start rebuilding their lives, to get back to functioning as families, with a job, basic work tools, housing, transportation and kids back in school.

The Collision Industry Foundation (CIF) has set up a special account for relief aid contributions. The Automotive Service Association has a blog web site at www.asashop.org that will be used for general information, discussion and comments. They, along with the Society of Collision Repair Specialists and the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers are asking their state and local affiliate associations for help finding a home and a job for industry members in need. We are in the process of setting up a specific website to record and enter all the information from those who can hire a displaced family. “This is not just a person we are hiring, it is a family we are taking in and helping to get back on their feet,” stressed Sulkala.

We are asking prospective employers to assist or work on local donations to help with, housing, transportation, clothing, furniture, relocation costs etc, etc. However, this should not stop someone from helping especially IF THEY HAVE A JOB OPENING. If need be, the Collision Industry Foundation will step in to provide additional assistance, but the less they need to spend on one family, the more they will have left that can be spent on other families in need.

We have committees in place to focus on relocation to new areas, tool replacement, fundraising and communication. Additionally, insurers and their CAT teams are being asked to pass the word in those effected areas. The Salvation Army and Red Cross are being advised as well. “By helping our own,” Sulkala said, “we can free up their resources so they can help others.”