Stephen Wade Auto Center wouldn’t be “Southern Utah’s Auto Mall” without the support of the people. That’s why they continue giving back to worthy causes to help make the community a better place to live for everyone.
Philanthropy has been a cornerstone of the dealership’s operations since the beginning, and Stephen Wade Auto Center is known for its long history of charitable giving in St. George and in Southern Utah.
“We support our residents in every stage of their lives,” public relations director Jamie Bahlmann said. “We’re especially passionate about supporting the people who are going to be our future.”
Of course, the future belongs to children, namely the students of Santa Clara, Washington, Hurricane, St. George and the rest of Washington County. Stephen Wade Auto Center supports the Washington County School District Foundation as well as teachers, sports teams, at-risk students and literacy programs through a wide variety of initiatives.
“They’ve been such a tremendous asset,” said Steven Dunham, director of communications and public relations for the Washington County School District. “They’re always looking for ways they can get involved.”
Stephen Wade Auto Center is a longtime sponsor of classroom grants. Every year, teachers across Washington County are encouraged to apply for grants that fund projects and learning opportunities outside of normal classroom dollars.
“We love this program because it really promotes education, and it goes right to the teachers that we support and care about,” said Bahlmann, who also serves on the school district foundation’s board.
Stephen Wade Auto Center sponsors the foundation’s annual fundraising golf tournament, the Fore the Kids Classic, as well. This year’s tournament will take place Sept. 30 at The Ledges of St. George, and the dealership has pledged $10,000 in support of classroom grants.
“That can help 20 classrooms or more. That’s 25-30 children per classroom, at least,” Dunham said. “They’re making a difference in hundreds of children’s lives throughout Washington County.”
Every spring, the dealership helps sponsor the Dixie Power Kite Festival, a family-friendly event that promotes literacy and a lifelong love of learning.
During the 2021-22 school year, 30 school clubs, teams and organizations benefited from Stephen Wade Auto Center’s Kick4Cash and Shoot4Cash halftime promotions. The program raised a total of $14,000 with the support of Goldenwest Credit Union and Canyon Media.
The Kick4Cash and Shoot4Cash events are designed to award money to high school clubs, teams and organizations that don’t typically receive sponsorships. The event allows three students who represent their organization to kick or shoot for cash during a football or basketball game halftime show at each of the five area high schools – Pine View in Washington, Crimson Cliffs, Desert Hills, and Dixie High Schools in St. George, and Snow Canyon High School in Santa Clara.
“That’s in addition to our ongoing sponsorship of high school athletics,” Bahlmann said. “You’ll see us on every scoreboard at our local high schools.”
Stephen Wade Auto Center’s support of local students extends to the most vulnerable in the community. More than 40% of Washington County students qualify for free and reduced school lunches, meaning their households are at or below poverty income levels. Over 600 kids are currently homeless or living in an unstable housing situations.
This summer, the dealership’s employees and customers collected supplies to help students from low-income households get the new school year started off right. They delivered a truckload of backpacks, notebooks, calculators, crayons, pencils, markers, pens and more to the school district's offices in St. George.
Stephen Wade Auto Center also supports at-risk students through the counselor’s closet program, where the foundation collects essential items that students may be lacking at home and provides them to school counselors to distribute as needed. This includes snacks, hygiene products, clothes and shoes.
Stephen Wade Auto Center always is working to build stronger schools, families and communities. They’ve been giving back to Southern Utah for the past 28 years and don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
“Our community is only as good as the kindness we give,” Bahlmann said. “Let’s all keep investing in Southern Utah.”