Helping People

Car dealer founders rev up charity efforts in South Florida

Gabriella Chariff walks a Maltese down the catwalk during Pawpurrazzi the Humane Society of Greater Miami Adopt-A-Pet annual evening fundraiser at Jungle Island in 2009.
Gabriella Chariff walks a Maltese down the catwalk during Pawpurrazzi the Humane Society of Greater Miami Adopt-A-Pet annual evening fundraiser at Jungle Island in 2009. FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

Two prominent car dealers are engines for philanthropy in South Florida.

Charles Dascal, founder of South Motors Automotive Group, and Jim Moran, nationally known car dealer who founded JM Family Enterprises, have both left legacies of giving that have touched South Florida communities for years and reached countless lives.


Cuban-born Charles Dascal built his businesses since 1961, when he arrived in Miami. Once he found success, he quietly used his fortune to do good.

He chaired the Florida International University Foundation board and donated to several charities, including the Jackson Memorial Foundation Guardian Angels, the Cancer Lifeline of Mount Sinai Medical Center, the Epilepsy Foundation of South Florida and the Humane Society of Greater Miami.

Dascal died in July 2013, but the tradition of giving has remained strong.

“When he was alive, Charles and his wife, Fanny, officially supported dozens of causes and organizations both big and small,” Jonathan Chariff, executive vice president of South Motors, said in an email to the Miami Herald.

“Since his passing, Fanny ceaselessly continues to contribute time and money to these and others. She was the catalyst for much of their philanthropy and continues to support them,” Chariff said.

South Motors annually sponsors “Pawpurrazzi,” a popular fundraiser for the Humane Society of Greater Miami that this year raised more than $600,000.

“As a diehard pet lover, Charles especially appreciated that one,” Chariff said. “Who wouldn’t? It’s where the world of fashion runways meets the world of pets. It’s the only event I know that offers a catwalk for dogs.”

Another local cause that has benefited from South Motors’ giving is the Kiwanis of Little Havana Scholarship Foundation, which provides scholarships to needy Hispanic students in Miami-Dade County.

“Contributions to date exceed a quarter-million dollars and have been used for our Foundation scholarship program, which to date has graduated over 200 students with four-year degrees since 1986,” Tony Lorenzo, president of the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana, and Henry Jimenez, chairman of the Kiwanis of Little Havana Foundation said in a statement.

“Kiwanis Club of Little Havana and its foundation are extremely grateful to BMW South Motors and the late Mr. Dascal’s continued generosity,” they said.


Jim Moran is a nationally known name both for the number of cars he sold and the amount of money he donated to myriad causes. His namesake foundation has carried on the generosity since his death in 2007.

According to the biography provided by the Jim Moran Foundation, he arrived in South Florida in 1960s and quickly began giving.

In 1984, he founded the Youth Automotive Training Center, which gives at-risk-youth mechanical and life-skills training. The center has expanded its operations over the years and trained hundreds of students.

Other beneficiaries include the United Way of Broward County, the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra and Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale. The hospital received the largest single gift from a living donor in its history in 2000 when Jim and his wife, Jan, donated $6 million, which funded the Jim Moran Heart and Vascular Center.

The foundation has made a significant impact at Nova Southeastern University. The Morans’ match of $3 million in donations allowed the university to expand programs in teaching, parenting skills and school preparedness.

The gift also allowed for the creation of a center on campus where students, faculty members and researchers have been able to study human development, which has helped advance research of early childhood, autism and family studies.

Roni Leiderman, dean of the Mailman Segal at the Jim & Jan Moran Family Center Village, who has a Ph.D. in developmental psychology, said the Morans’ gift has expanded into the community through the center’s continued work in early childhood centers for high-needs families.

“We extend the high-quality programs and services beyond the boundaries of the university,” she said.

The Jim Moran Foundation declined to comment for this story.

Contact these organizations

South Motors Automotive Group

Jim Moran Foundation