For her outstanding corporate citizenship, Ford Motor Company has named Fritts among the nine recipients of its seventh annual Salute To Dealers award.
Rick Fritts founded Riverside Against Drugs (RAD) 20 years ago and helped support it with a fund-raiser at his dealership each year. Marie has been able to double the amount of money Fritts Ford has raised for the organization, which serves Alvord and Riverside Unified School Districts’ students in kindergarten through high school. The funds support drug, alcohol, tobacco and violence prevention and intervention programs as well as School Resource Officers. The Riverside City Council recently recognized RAD’S work and thanked Fritts for her support.
“Mrs. Fritts is an exceptionally generous and caring individual and I feel honored to be able to work with her. She is the battery that keeps the machine going,” said Deborah Myers Norys, Pupil Services, Riverside Unified School District. “With budget cuts continuing to happen every year, the support from Project RAD is more important now than ever before.”
Fritts also reaches out to those less fortunate. Her commitment to the new Arlanza Health Care Center in Riverside means thousands of underinsured and uninsured families and individuals will receive quality vision care and glasses, regardless of their ability to pay for it.
“Marie is very faithful to her community,” said Dr. Dan Anderson, president and CEO of Riverside Community Health Foundation, which established the new clinic to offer medical, dental and vision services on a sliding-fee scale. “She has been a great support to the foundation over the years. Marie means a lot to us.”
Fritts also has a soft spot for animals. Rick and Marie Fritts generously supported the Riverside Humane Society Pet Adoption Center for more than a decade. Today, Marie gives generously to the organization’s capital campaign and provides major sponsorship of RHSPAC’s annual Raccoon Ball, Walk with the Animals and Comedy Night fund raisers, which she also attends. And Fritts Ford donates a Ford truck to transport shelter animals to area veterinary clinics.
“We deeply appreciate Marie Fritts’ thoughtful and longtime support of RHSPAC and its mission to find loving homes for our resident animals,” said Cathy Walling, RHSPAC executive director. “Her continuing generosity to so many needy organizations throughout the community like ours is what makes her truly a special individual.”
Fritts combines her support of local law enforcement with her love of animals, helping to fund the acquisition and training of several police dogs for the Riverside Police and Riverside County Sheriff’s Departments, which normally aren’t funded by the local government budget. K-9 unit officers regularly bring the dogs to Fritts’ office so she can visit and provide them with a treat.
Fritts also works with the Riverside Law Enforcement Appreciation Committee, which holds an annual dinner to recognize the Officer of the Year.
“I cannot underscore enough the confidence and appreciation we have in Marie Fritts,” Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach said. “As a friend to the department and as a very involved citizen in this community, her name is well-known for her actual involvement and commitment to community issues.”
Fritts gives countless hours of her time doing what she can each month to give back to the Riverside community. Each year, Fritts Ford adopts a local elementary school so Santa Claus can provide a toy to every student and she supports the Riverside Arts Council, YWCA and more.
“I have been very fortunate to have been successful in business and it is a moral obligation to give to those who are less fortunate,” Fritts said.
Salute To Dealers was established in 2001 to demonstrate Ford Motor Company’s commitment to its dealer principals who improve the lives of those in need in their communities while providing outstanding products and services. The program is conducted under the guidance of Edsel B. Ford II, great-grandson of Henry Ford and a member of Ford’s Board of Directors.
“Marie’s involvement in and dedication to her community underscores Ford’s commitment to making a difference in the places where we work and live,” Edsel Ford said. “She is inspiring.”