The California Pawnbrokers Association (CAPA) is committed to community outreach. The association supports the communities it serves through donation programs, supporting charitable causes, and providing scholarships. CAPA also encourages its members to use their presence in communities throughout California to get involved in philanthropic, charitable, and fundraising activities. Diane Taylor, president of the California Pawnbrokers Association, notes, “The pawn industry in California has gone through a transformation in recent years. The industry’s efforts as a whole have done wonders to improve the image of pawnbrokers through community and government relations.
Pawnbrokers are getting involved in their communities, not only as a way to positively represent the pawn industry, but because of personal commitments to many charitable causes. “Pawnbrokers have a history of supporting police organizations, conducting musical instrument donation drives, and awarding scholarships to young Californians who need financial support to achieve their dreams,” said Ms. Taylor.
CAPA would like to highlight the efforts of three members of the Board of Directors who have taken the lead on philanthropic causes to help make an impact.
Cash for Gold for Education
Stephen Foster of Fresno Coin Gallery Jewelry & Loan is a champion in his community, having raised over $130,000 for Fresno County Schools since 2010. Mr. Foster is on the Boar of Directors for the California Pawnbrokers Association. He explained how during a meeting with city leaders in 2010, he was made aware of the lack of funding and other shortfalls the schools in his community were encountering and was inspired to give back.
With the School Superintendent’s blessing, he immediately set to organizing a two week gold buying event whereby the community would sell scrap gold, the proceeds of which were donated to benefit Fresno County Schools.
The gold buying event was a huge success, raising $38,233.90 for over 250 Fresno County schools, and receiving the support of San Diego Charger Lorenzo Neal and the Fresno Mayor. The schools that received the donations were hand picked by the Fresno Coin Gallery Jewelry & Loan customers.
“I’ve had so very many customers and people around town tell me that they really care for what we’ve done,” explained Stephen. “I hope to be inspiring to other businesses that are doing well to step up and do something for their community as well.” Following the event, the City of Fresno and Mayor Ashley Swearingen recognized the efforts and proclaimed April 22, 2010 as Fresno Coin Gallery Day.
This year, Stephen decided to go even bigger. He extended the gold buying event to three weeks, and Larry Powell, Superintendent of Fresno County Schools, starred in a series of television commercials to promote the event.
This year, to the astonishment of the community and all involved, they were able to present $102,250 to the Fresno County Office of Education.
More Than Just a Smiling Face
Art Artinian can remember a time when, in the infancy of his business, there were fewer resources available for community giving. Today, he’s built up Pacoima Pawn Shop and Diamond Jim’s from humble beginnings to two prospering enterprises.
His success has allowed him to fuel efforts to actively support his community more, including contributions to the local fire and police departments. He holds two particular causes very near and dear to his heart. As an Armenian American, Art takes time during the holidays to raise significant funds for a local Armenian family in need. “I’m finally in the position to give more and more back to the community,” he said, “and it’s a great feeling to know that we’re helping transform so many families’ lives.”
In addition, he is an avid supporter and promoter of Smile Train, a charitable organization hailed by the NY Times as “…one of the most productive charities – dollar for deed – in the world.” Smile Train raises funds to provide free surgical procedures to children born with facial clefts and cleft palates. “These children cannot eat or speak properly and often aren’t even allowed to attend school are get a job.” Art adds “Their clefts usually go untreated because they are poor and too poor to pay for a simple surgery that has been around for decades. We are very happy to be able to be part of a solution for these children over the years.”
Art’s continues to contribute financially and raise awareness for the group. Smile Train has provided over 600,000 surgeries in the last 12 years.
Father and Son Give Back
Stan Lukowitz II and Stan Lukowitz III are obviously at tight knit father and son team. The are the men behind Capital City Loan & Jewelry in Sacramento. The Lukowitzs are firm believers in giving back to their communities. “We feel that it is important to build a network of trust as well as to let our neighbors know that Capital City Loan & Jewelry is a strong and involved business venture in Sacramento” Mr. Lukowitz III notes.
Among the several groups that Stan supports are the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff’s Association including their Run for Fallen Officers, the local Breast Cancer Awareness events, and Capital City Loan is the title sponsor for the Golden Empire Council Annual Gold Tournament.
Stan Lukowitz III follows in the footsteps of his father, a respected community member and philanthropist. Stan proudly recounts the story of his father’s childhood as a happy one. Stan explains “but it was clouded by the early passing of his father and a struggling mother. Although my dad’s life was a daily battle, he was fortunate when a local pawnbroker took him under his wing and taught him the ins and outs of the pawn business.”
He also found refuge and comfort in his local Boy Scouts group. “It was the best time of his life.” Stan explained, “They never took a penny from his family. It was a turning point in his life.”
Stan Lukowitz II began working as a pawnbroker in 1964, and as his pawn shop became increasingly successful, he never forgot his roots. “He always remembered what the Boys Scouts had done for him, and he always supports them as much as possible.” Both of his sons, Stan and his brother, later joined the business.
Today, as a tribute to his father, the Lukowitzs continue to dedicate significant finances and support to the Boy Scouts of America. Capital City Loan has seven locations, and giving back to the community is a top priority for his business.