Matt Buchanan has three relatives who proudly served in the armed forces: his father, his uncle, and his grandfather. He also believes in giving back to the community he is a part of.
So it is only natural that Buchanan, managing partner of Sarasota Ford, helped spearhead a program that recognizes the selfless efforts of local citizens, including teachers, police officers, firefighters, first responders, and members of the military and veterans, known as the “One Community One Team” initiative.
“Since I’ve taken over the store [in 2011], I really believe in giving back,” Buchanan told Mega Dealer News. “We’ve given back in a lot of different ways … What we wanted to do is just do something different and recognize people at a whole new level. What the initiative essentially does is it allows people from the local area nominate individuals they feel deserve some type of recognition in some way or another. We pick anything from teachers to schools to firemen, police officers, police departments.”
The 6-month-old program, Buchanan further explained, puts together “a really cool surprise” for the nominated individuals. He recalled the dealership honoring the Haven, a local social services organization, last December by turning its cafeteria into a “winter wonderland” complete with a visit from jolly old St. Nick himself.
“It’s very incredible to just to see all those faces and how thankful everybody was,” Buchanan said.
Sometime afterward, the dealership treated Sarasota police to a surf and turf lunch of steak and lobster.
“We literally rolled out the red carpet for them and just wanted to thank them for their incredible work and dedication to our community,” said Buchanan.
One Community One Team recently took a Marine who fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II and served in the Korean War, a Purple Heart recipient who served in Vietnam, and Gold Star parents whose son was killed in action in Afghanistan on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. where they visited monuments memorializing those who answered the call to defend freedom. A video of the trip can be viewed on Facebook or YouTube.
A memory from the Honor Flight that truly stood out for Buchanan was meeting the WWII veteran who carried a Bible with a bullet encased in it.
“[The Bible] saved his life,” he said.
Buchanan stated that the dealership would not exist without “a strong community.”
“[A] strong community keeps a strong business going,” he said. “It’s just feels so great to give back. We love it.”
The dealership hopes that One Community One Team inspires other businesses to do something for their communities.
“We want to encourage that in other cities across America,” said Buchanan. “We feel like if we even touch one other community or touch many more people outside of our even reach then we have a successful program.”