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CRUISIN’ FOR CASH: Local nonprofit works quietly to benefit the community

A good number of charity organizations have branches here. Some are affiliated with national or regional chapters and most try to keep the funds in the community. One group, Pahrump Valley Cruisers, is a nonprofit organization with strict guidelines for spending money.

Dynamo and Valley Cruisers Special Events Coordinator Lee Cromer is adamant about keeping the money here and funding things for youth.

“We have one major fundraiser every year and that’s the Over the Hump to Pahrump Show and Shine. All the members volunteer their time but we do have expenses. We generally clear about $5,000 to $6,000 a year at that show and every single penny goes back to this community — nowhere else.”

The group is now seeking sponsorship and donations for the raffle table at the 20th annual event set for April, 18, 2015 at Petrack Park.

The group has donated free swim days for the residents to use the community pool. It costs them $300 or more every time. They support Toys for Tots and the Lions Club Letters to Santa program and make a generous donation to No to Abuse and the local division of child services.

Food for Thought, a program run by Kiwanis, gets a large donation to help buy food for needy children and feed those children over the weekend.

The 4-H club here approached Valley Cruisers during one of its meetings to make a presentation. The youth group needed transportation to county fairs so they could compete in the animal shows. Valley Cruisers approved the donation.

“If there is a youth-oriented event needing a little help, they can send us a letter and we’ll see what we can do,” Cromer said.

She said the membership makes recommendations on approval but the final decision is left to the “financial committee.”

The organization also funds an art scholarship for a high school senior, supports the choir and purchases Fall Festival carnival and rodeo tickets to give away.

And all those shiny convertibles in the Fall Festival parade — those are donated by Valley Cruiser members as well.

“Members have donated cars to carry the Miss Pahrump court and Ms. Senior Golden Years, Ms. Senior Nye County, too.”

Cromer’s husband, Allen, said he has a hard time keeping up with his wife. “She’s always so busy working on something,” he said. “I’ve taken on the position of photographer and historian for the group.”

Allen is out with his camera every time there is a group function, a meeting, a donation presentation and at other events the group attends.

“We go to other events, too,” he said. “We recently had dinner at Mountain Falls Grill Room and had an impromptu car show in front of the clubhouse, with permission, of course.”

Lee said, “Each member is responsible for buying their own meal. Paying for that doesn’t come from the charity fund.”

As historian, Allen has gathered photos taken from the very beginning. The group held its first Show and Shine in 1996 at Saddle West, when the casino was small and the parking lot was gravel. He has photos from potluck dinners, impromptu gatherings and binder upon binder chock full of memorabilia. Everything is in chronological order with notes.

Allen’s El Camino has a trunk lid and all of the space under that lid is packed with sound equipment he uses to provide music at the Show and Shine before the live music starts and for other events as requested.

“We come prepared for the party,” Allen said.

Lee said the biggest problem the group has is dwindling membership. “Most of the people interested in the really old cars started when they were young. As the membership is getting older, there don’t seem to be any younger people wanting to join.” The current membership is 35 total.

“We have fun. We go for cruises to different places and it doesn’t cost anything to join us.”

She said the group has “cruised” to Death Valley and China Ranch Date Farm, Miss Kathy’s Short Branch Saloon in Crystal and over the hump to Red Rock Canyon. They participate in Beatty Days and Amargosa Days as well.

“We just enjoy getting together and getting out,” Allen said.

Cromer said the meetings are enjoyable as well. “We socialize before we get down to business. She said anyone is welcome to come to the meetings as well.

“We meet the second Thursday of every month except for August and December. Social time starts at 6:30 p.m. in the banquet rooms beside the bowling alley at the Pahrump Nugget.”

She said the members have a lot of fun with raffles and 50/50 drawings. She said the 50/50 winnings for the organization go to provide the meats for a membership Christmas potluck dinner.

“None of that comes out of our charity fund either. If we have operating costs for something, it comes out of the members’ pockets, or by way of the membership raffles.”

The only remaining founding member of Valley Cruisers is Joe Cohen, who lives in Amargosa. When Cohen’s home caught fire March 21, 2009, the Valley Cruiser members came off of their personal wallets to help replace the gutted home.

“We have totally awesome members and we are community oriented. We come together for a cause and support anything we can,” the Cromers said.

The next fundraiser will be in November at the Horizon Market on North Highway 160. Lee said, “This car and truck show supports children in transition. When a child enters a foster care situation, they are often removed from the home with only the clothes they are wearing.

The funds provide essentials and items to help give the children some sense of normalcy.

To sponsor Show and Shine, call 751-0994. To get information on joining the car club, call Valley Cruisers President Chuck Fullen at 775-513-1466.

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