Harley-Davidson puts some cash behind youth award

Heather Bates and Emilee Dent got more than their names on the wall for being named the youths of the month for January and February at the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada.

The girls went home with Harley-Davidson T-shirts and caps and $100 gift certificates to Target, all courtesy of Carson City-based Harley-Davidson Financial Services.

The Boys & Girls Club opened the year with Harley's insurance, credit card and loan division picking up sponsorship of the youth of the month award, which previously had no cash or gifts.

"This is a great thing for our kids," said Mark Jacoby, the club's assistant executive director. "It allows us to give the kids a little more to recognize them."

Heather, 9, is a third-grader at Bordewich-Bray Elementary School. She was recognized for her art and homework and for perfect attendance at Smart Moves and field hockey as well as helping the staff.

Emilee, 11, is a fifth-grader at Empire Elementary School. She excels scholastically and is an eager and enthusiastic volunteer. She was a team leader for the club's recently concluded girls hockey league.

"Both are active in sports, homework and arts and crafts," Jacoby said. "They are active young ladies."

The girls received their prizes Monday at the Harley building in the airport industrial park area. Donna Zarcone, president of Harley-Davidson Financial Services, gave away the gift certificates and Harley gear.

Harley's financial division has become quite prominent at the Boys & Girls Club since the company's director of corporate compliance, Marisa Whitesides, joined the club's board of directors in August.

Before taking on the youth of the month sponsorship, Harley donated a motorcycle that was auctioned for $15,000 to pay for youth memberships to the Boys and Girls Club.

"Their mission is in line with our core values," said Whitesides, who herself lived five years in an orphanage. "One of our core values is encouraging intellectual curiosity. We try to support programs that sponsor youth and education.

"We see the Boys & Girls Club as a catalyst to attract a lot of youth that could get themselves in trouble."

Harley-Davidson Financial Services has become a major employer in Carson City after starting up in 1993 with only a handful of workers. The company now has about 420 employees in Carson City, the second largest non-government employer in the capital city behind the Carson Nugget.

Starting from zero, the firm in seven years has built its loan receivables to $1.6 billion and more than 200,000 people are Harley-Davidson credit card holders. Harley-Davidson Financial Services provides loans to customers buying Harley motorcycles and dealers to allow them to stock motorcycles.

The firm's Carson City office also issued 85,000 insurance policies in 1999, Zarcone said.


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