Dedicated To Giving Back To The Community
By: Heidi PP, If Magazine Editor In Chief
This Afternoon I Am Fortunate Indeed To Be Able To Interview The Very Busy Alan Helfman, Known As Mr. Philanthropy To Many. He Greeted Me Warmly And Took Me Down The Hallway That Leads To His Office, With Award After Award Recognizing His Generous Spirit. The Countless Humanitarian Awards And Plaques Represent The Many Philanthropic Efforts Mr. Helfman Has Been A Part Of Over The Years; Further Highlighting His Heart And Dedication To The Betterment Of Our Community.
When it comes to community philanthropy, Alan Helfman of River Oaks Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, has done everything and continues to do it all. President and CEO of the 5 member Helfman family business, he donates not only resources, but his time and seemingly boundless energy to help fundraise for countless causes. A native Houstonian, he is constantly answering the call to support numerous philanthropic events throughout the city, but among his most obvious passions are the brave men and women of the Houston Police Department. When the COVID pandemic first shut down the world in 2020, Helfman secured 850 KN95 masks worth $100,000 to HPD, HFD, and other law enforcement agencies throughout the city and county. As if that were not enough, he provided funds for surgery rooms at Houston Methodist Hospital and Hermann Memorial Medical Center.
This is one of the ways Alan donates, giving away cars. Last year with the pandemic still haunting us , he said, “‘Game on!’ and gave away eight—two to the HPD, two to the Houston Fire Department (HFD), one to Houston Methodist Hospital, one to Ronald McDonald House, one to Rice University, and one to the Houston Community College.”
Giving away cars is only part of Alan Helfman’s generosity. He organizes and hosts exciting fundraising events (two a month for the past 25 years before the pandemic). These typically have at least 12 performers, sometimes Astros’ and Rockets’ cheerleaders, and his own band! He said with a large grin, “We dance and sing, jump around , and three hours later, we’ve raised more than $100,000.” A large part of the money raised is generated by each event’s auction. Many of the coveted items are donated by Alan from his extensive collection of entertainment and sports memorabilia. Also during the course of a day, his advertising and public relations, Chris Swanson, says that Alan may give away 3 or 4 items from his collection to a customer. These items were not acquired by Alan for free. To have really nice items for his auctions, Alan said that he pays the athletes to sign jerseys and other items that he then sells at his auctions during fundraising events.
Any time Houston has experienced a crisis, Alan has been quick to respond. After the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, the Seven Acres Jewish Senior Care Center appealed for help in rebuilding, originally asking for $800,000. He found that the Hilton Americas was almost vacant, planned and organized a gala, and helped to raise more than $4.7 million.
Alan is quick to give credit to those who have worked with him and helped. For more than 30 years, Mrs. Georgia Provost has assisted him in many of his fund-raising efforts. “I was only 27 and at a fundraiser for Constable A. B. Chambers to help put kids through college,” said Alan. “Behind me, I heard a woman talking, crying. She had just lost her husband. How was she to raise her children and run their photography company? I turned around and asked her, ‘Could I help take care of you?’”
He promised her a brand-new car every year at whatever price she was paying now. In return, he told her that he could use help in assisting the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Wards in Houston. Since then, she has helped him produce 80+ fundraisers for the historically Black college, Texas Southern University, where he now serves on the Board, and many other fundraisers, as well. The 85th fundraiser was held on the 26th of March. Over the years, Alan has raised $1.5 million dollars.
Although Alan Helfman does not reach out to help his city and those in need for publicity, his unwavering dedication to making life better for the community has not gone unnoticed. Over the years, he has received numerous awards and honors. Here we will mention a few: June 8, 2002 was proclaimed Alan Helfman Day by the City of Houston; TSU renamed their radio studios the Helfman Provost Studios in 2015; he was named a Houston Treasure for 2019 by The Social Book; he was the recipient of the first Lifetime Achievement Award by the Houston Police Department in 2021; and Houston Community College named the Alan Helfman Criminal Justice Law Program after him at a naming ceremony on August 24, 2021; at a gala held in the St. Regis, he was one of several to receive the Humanitarian of the Year award in July 2021.
When there is a specific need or crisis, Alan will organize a special fundraising event for an individual. On the 31st of March at the HPD Union on Memorial, Alan hosted a fundraiser for Sgt. Suarez who is battling stage 4 cancer. Later this year on May 5th, also at the HPD Union, Mrs. Provost and Alan will be holding a fundraiser for officer Lopez who was hit by a train while on duty. The plans for such a fundraiser include an auction of a minimum of 55 items, dancers, and a band. Mrs. Provost and Alan dance around, creating energy and fun, and selling items. The least amount of money raised for an individual was $25,000 and the most was $150,000, which is given directly to the family. These events always take place on Fridays.
On April 6, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony at Rice University to dedicate the Helfman Landing at Ripley Field. This will be a meeting place for all fans of the baseball players to meet and hang out, so it will be a continuous recognition reminder of the generosity of the Helfman family for generations Because of their generous spirit, Alan and his wife will continue to get recognition and awards for years to come even though that is not the reason they do it.
Alan Helfman and the family of dealerships have been a major benefactor for Houston during all crises, small and large. Houston owes them a debt of gratitude. When we are making a purchase, we should support businessmen like Alan who support the community.
Heidi PP- Editor in Chief, iF Magazine, Global Journalist, (713) 927-9038
Alan Helfman, River Oaks Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, (713) 524-3801