The Auto Club sponsored a Month of Helping for Hurricane Harvey victims by filling a semi-trailer with 23 pallets of new items for families, babies and pets. Donations came from Auto Club employees throughout the country and were delivered to the United Way and Houston Food Bank on September 30th.
Cartography has a long history within the organization. The Auto Club produced its first TourBook back in 1909. Its 388 pages included almost 100 pages of maps, which led to the creation of a map drafting department in 1911. By 1914, there were five people in the department. Today, it has eight cartographers, including one of the nation’s last field cartographers, Shane Henry, who drives across the West noting the safety of each dirt road. The team works on 70 folded map titles for many states, including Texas, Maine, Alabama, and California; and more than 2 million maps are handed out to members each year. The department is led by Alyson Stanton, Manager, Cartography, who was hired in 2002. Here she talks about the importance of maps to our members and about the future of mapping.
What did you do when you were first hired?
I started as a cartographer, and at that time we were still making some maps by hand, scribing and gluing typeset street names down on Mylar film. I was working on the drawings, and we were transitioning into digital mapping. All the maps were being digitized and created in Adobe Illustrator.
How does cartography fit into the organizations mission?
I like to say that we inspire people to travel. Mapping is a legendary service because it’s been around for so long. Our members really respect the quality of the maps we make. And as time has gone on, we’ve tried to add information and details that you don’t necessarily find without having to go to multiple sources. So many of our maps have a lot of travel information all in one product, this is what makes them a valued member product and sets our maps apart from other products out there.
How long does it take to make a map?
A new map takes quite a while. Sometimes, it takes about eight months, because we start by building the base, but we also gather the data and all the research materials. And once you’ve done all the research, then you have to lay down the lines and type on the map and write the map copy. So it’s quite a process. Updating a map takes about two to three months.
Has the focus of our cartography changed in recent years, and if so, how?
I think it has. Today, we put a big effort into Guide and Reference maps, such as Yosemite, Indian Country, and Camping, because they are vacation-planning tools, versus our city maps. People aren’t using city maps as much because they have the data on their phones, the City series maps used to be our highest usage. When you go to your friend’s new house, you dial it in your phone and get the step-by-step directions instead of opening a map and trying to figure out where the house is. So we really have focused on our Guide maps and vacation maps that give people more than just the street pattern. Our series of Guide maps has increased in usage, so we are creating new titles for our members.
Auto Club United Way Donations Change Lives
Our organization makes a big difference in the communities we serve through our ongoing commitment to United Way. Our spring campaign, held March 20 through April 7 in the California, Texas, Alabama, New Mexico and Hawaii markets, focused on changing lives in our communities. We did just that, with employees pledging and donating over $500,000! The Auto Club will also donate a corporate gift to the United Way.
Throughout the campaign, 64 employees serving as United Way Ambassadors hosted events and guest speakers for our major business units. Representatives from United Way and its partner programs described how donations assist the most vulnerable individuals and families in our communities with education, income, health and housing needs.
“The generosity of our employees is really what made our campaign a success,” said Brian Deephouse, Auto Club Vice President and Chief Actuary, and the 2017 Auto Club of Southern California United Way Executive Campaign Chair. “Thank you for giving from your heart to change the lives of people in our communities who are in need.”
Donations from the spring campaign are distributed throughout the year among the 36 United Way chapters where our employees are located in our California, Texas, Alabama, New Mexico and Hawaii markets. When you donate to United Way, your contributions benefit your local community.
United Way is engaged in nearly 1,800 communities across 40 countries and territories worldwide. As the largest privately-funded nonprofit in the world, United Way creates solutions that build stronger communities by focusing their efforts on education, income, health and housing. These challenges are all interconnected, forming vital components of a healthy and secure life – if any of them is removed or adversely impacted, the others are negatively affected as well.
The Automobile Club of Southern California supports United Way for many reasons, but most importantly, because our organizations share similar values. We both assist our local communities, help people and have trusted reputations.
Meet A United Way Ambassador
Fred Family, United Way Ambassador, wrote: “We started the Ambassador program six years ago, and I’ve been an Ambassador with the campaign for all those six years, helping with our activities and events here at the AO and offsite. I support United Way because they have a goal: to fight for the education, health, housing and financial stability of every person in Orange County. It is my goal as well, as a United Way supporter.”
What is the role of United Way Ambassadors?
Employees serve as United Way Ambassadors in our California, Texas, Alabama, New Mexico and Hawaii markets. The role of an Ambassador is to be a knowledgeable resource for their teammates to learn how United Way’s programs serve the needs in our local communities. While the spring campaign this year ran from March 20 to April 7, our donations — and our Ambassadors — are working year-round.
Ambassadors may also take part in offsite volunteer activities. For example, March 2 was National Read Across America Day (observed on the birthday of famed children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel – better known as Dr. Seuss).
Focusing on education is an essential part of United Way’s efforts to help children and adults succeed.
On Wednesday, February 8, Auto Club-sponsored NHRA Funny Car driver, Robert Hight, and the Automobile Club of Southern California unveiled a special paint scheme to honor the Club’s relationship with the California Highway Patrol and bring awareness to California’s Move Over law. The special livery also helped kick off the National Hot Rod Association’s program, “NHRA Salutes First Responders”, during which the NHRA will honor members of local police, fire, medical and recovery services at each event during the 2017 NHRA racing season.
Move Over laws require drivers to slow down when they see the flashing lights of emergency vehicles and move a lane away from them whenever possible. Many states, including California, designate tow trucks as emergency vehicles too. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), making a traffic or emergency stop on the side of the road is one of the most dangerous duties law-enforcement officers perform.
“I think most people drive on autopilot these days,” says Terry Abejuela, an Auto Club employee and longtime instructor for the California Tow Truck Association. “We’re so used to just driving past things on the shoulder and not paying attention. If there’s an emergency, by the time we realize what’s going on, we don’t have time to move over or slow down.”
The unveiling of the CHP Funny Car during the NHRA media day generated a lot of additional exposure for the Auto Club’s efforts in the name of traffic safety.
You may know AAA for their excellent reputation as a roadside assistance provider, but the company is so much more – such as an advocate for motorists and traffic safety. In fact, in November 2016, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) presented the Automobile Club of Southern California with the “Corporate Partner of the Year” award during their annual gala.
The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day has long been recognized as some of the most dangerous days on the road for drivers. “Drivers should be aware of the high crash risk from drinking and driving associated with the holidays, and we encourage them not to get behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking,” said Anita Lorz Villagrana, the Auto Club’s community programs and traffic safety manager. “It only takes one or two drinks to slow physical and mental skills that affect vision, steering, braking judgment, and reaction time,” she said.
This reality has led some AAA Club’s across the country to implement a local “Tipsy Tow” program which helps get impaired drivers off the road by providing free tow service for them and their vehicle on New Year’s Eve. This free service has been available to members and non-members for over two decades, and is just one of the ways that AAA promotes a safe driving message in local communities and fulfills a commitment to the motorist.
A key tenet of AAA’s business model is being a responsible corporate citizen. Year-round efforts support various local community initiatives, but some AAA Clubs did a little extra this holiday season to ensure less fortunate families and individuals receive the assistance they needed.
AAA Clubs across the country, but particularly in Missouri, Northern New England and Southern California worked with local United Way and other charitable organizations to donate time, clothing, toys and food in support of local initiatives and needs in their respective communities.
“We were able to collect a car-full of items for children of all ages, boys and girls,” Susan Malone, Claims Team Manager from Los Angeles said in regards to her teams work with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “When we arrived at the loading dock of the hospital, we were told they were impressed with our donations and surprised it was just from one department! We felt blessed we could participate in touching families when they need it the most.”
Hundreds of employees recently participated in the Automobile Club of Southern California Employee Career Expo at the Costa Mesa Administrative Offices. The Expo was an opportunity to educate current employees on the multiple business units and potential career options the organization has to offer.
“We felt the Career Expo was an important event to show the depth of our career growth opportunities” said Lisa Allen, Human Resources Recruitment Manager.
Business Unit management from departments such as Branch Operations, Policy Management, Insurance Sales, Information Technology and Human Resources joined the event to provide additional information on their responsibilities in the organization. “We saw a unique opportunity to educate our employees about other Business Units,” said Allen. “It provides our employees options should they want to pursue a different career path.”
The Career Expo in conjunction with the recent launch of the new Career Engine, an employee learning management system, is proving to provide valuable educational resources for employees. The organization also hosts Learning Expos in select markets to encourage employee use of training development classes and other resources. Classes are designed to assist employees with the opportunity to advance their knowledge at multiple levels.
The Automobile Club of Southern California Administrative Offices in Costa Mesa, California, hosted a school supplies donation drive this summer to support Orange County United Way’s “Stuff the Bus” initiative. Donations from Automobile Club of Southern California employees and other local businesses allowed K-12 students in the Anaheim Elementary School District to start the school year with a backpack full of supplies.
Nearly 3,000 Orange County students drop out of high school every year. “Stuff the Bus” was one more way that the Auto Club is helping the Orange County United Way meet its goal of cutting the high school dropout rate in half by 2024.
Visiting the Auto Club to thank employees for their donations were members from the Anaheim Elementary School District, whose pupils received the filled backpacks.
“Our employees deliver beyond our expectations every time we ask them to help our community,” said Wendy Nugent, senior communications specialist and United Way employee campaign manager. “Going to class prepared and ready to learn sets the stage for a child to be successful in school for many years.”
The sun was hot but the cars were cool at the 10th Anniversary Auto Club Employee Car Show on June 18. The show featured an impressive range of vehicles including BMW’s, Fords, Chevy’s, Cadillac’s, Volkswagens, a Studebaker and more. Held at the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Administrative Offices in Costa Mesa, California, the event hosted approximately 4,500 attendees, made up of employees, retirees, family members and friends.
The event featured over 250 vehicles spanning 11 decades. Classics, hot rods, muscle cars, antiques, motorcycles, racecars and some of the latest supercars were all represented. Trophies were awarded in 14 categories, including a special category for BMW’s in recognition of the marque’s 100th anniversary.
Our celebrity guest was three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and 2007 “Dancing with the Stars” champion Helio Castroneves. Castroneves joined Auto Club CEO Bob Bouttier on stage for a Q&A before signing autographs for attendees later in the day.
The McKernan Award for Best of Show went to this 1942 Chevrolet Fleetline.
The Auto Club Employee Car Show is known for having some specialty vehicles on display and this year was no exception. Examples included the Auto Club’s recently restored 1961 Dodge Polara CHP Pursuit car, two BMW i8 high performance Hybrids, a collection of restored military Jeeps, a rare 1956 BMW Isetta on loan from the Petersen Automotive Museum, and two jet powered dragsters from Lucas Oil. As always one of the fan favorite activities of the show was the chest-pumping “cacklefest” by a group of five nostalgic race cars revving their alcohol-fueled engines.
The musical highlight of the show was the debut performance by the ACE Garage Band, featuring five talented Auto Club employees including executive musicians. The ACE Garage Band delivered a rockin’ performance of classic rock covers that set a perfect soundtrack to the 10th Anniversary Car Show.
The Kids Zone grew from prior years, hosting balloon artists, face painters, super heroes, carnival games, video games and giveaways like the AAA Mini Map for all the children.
Providing lunch for our guests was local caterer Heroes, with a menu of chicken Portuguese sausage, barbecue pork rib tips, gourmet hot dogs, potato salad, corn on the cobb, watermelon, chips, cookies, ice cream, locally brewed craft root beer, other assorted beverages and water.
The Automobile Club of Southern California Employee Car Show was established as a thank you to our employees for bringing Legendary Service to our Members.
More than 130 volunteers and staff set up the show, checked in cars, greeted visitors, took photos, assisted with lunch lines, tallied votes and helped with tear-down and clean-up.