WALDO CANYON, Colo. - When the Colorado wildfires were burning out of control in recent weeks, the Phil Long Family of Dealerships – which includes three Ford dealerships in Colorado and one in New Mexico – stepped into action and donated more than 30 new vehicles to the Fire Department, Emergency Operations Center and Red Cross to help transport firefighters and equipment to the disaster scene at Waldo Canyon.
“We were watching the drama unfold, and we wanted to help,” said Mike Cimino, vice president, Phil Long Family of Dealerships. “We thought we could make our inventory available to deploy equipment, food, water, volunteers and anything else that was needed.”
The Waldo Canyon fire – the most destructive wildfire in Colorado state history – destroyed more than 346 homes and burned more than 18,000 acres of land. Some Phil Long employees lost their homes or experienced moderate to severe smoke damage. Many people were evacuated and displaced.
“When you see people going through their belongings with a sifter you feel pretty fortunate about the fact that maybe you can make a difference,” said Cimino.
In addition to offering vehicles, Phil Long technicians volunteered to be on call around the clock to service fire trucks, emergency response vehicles and other emergency vehicles fighting the wildfires.
“Our technicians raised their hands and said, ‘Hey, let us help! These firefighters have been working long hours on the front lines and we want to be there for them,’” said Cimino.
This is not the first time that the Phil Long Family of Dealerships has reached out to help the community – in fact, far from it.
In 1991, Jay Cimino, chief executive officer and president of the organization, established the Phil Long Community Fund in honor of the dealership’s original founder. Since its inception, the Fund has provided more than $2 million in grants to 501c3 youth-based organizations.
In 1996, Jay Cimino initiated the “Fantasy Playground” project with the support of his friend Mike Shanahan and the Denver Bronco’s Charities. Since that time 10 fantasy playgrounds, two athletic fields, a teen center and a world-class skate park have been built for children throughout the state of Colorado.
“Our employees rally around this project and turn out in full force along with hundreds of community volunteers,” explained Cimino, who is Jay’s son. “In three days, a team of people from all different walks of life work together to create a safe place for children to play and provide increased recreational opportunities for youth and family from all income levels.”
The Phil Long Family of Dealerships also supports the U.S. troops and their families, a number of educational institutions and variety of organizations – including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, the United Way and the American Red Cross – through its many philanthropic efforts.