Perspective: Classic Car Club Gives to Gateway

Gateway’s General Motors Automotive Service Education Class of 2017 with the 2014 Corvette donated by G.M. The graphics on both sides of the ‘Vette were paid for by the Connecticut Classic Chevy Club, which also funds an Automotive Technology scholarship.

(December 2022) In 1994, six classic car devotees formed the Connecticut Classic Chevy Club (CCCC), a local chapter of a national organization that does good in the community and promotes preserving 1955-1957 Chevrolets. They later expanded their focus to years and models up to 1972.

Over the past 28 years, the CCCC has accomplished much. They co-hosted annual classic car shows and raised more than $700,000 for local organizations and scholarships – including scholarships for Gateway’s Automotive Technology (AT) program students.

The CCCC is known as “The Club with a Heart,” said CCCC founding member and current president George Civitelli. Its Lee W. Ritchie Memorial Scholarship was first awarded by the GCC Foundation in 2017, in memory of another founding club member. The scholarship’s goal is to help people get into the automotive service field, according to Ron DePoto, a third CCCC founding member. “The scholarship can be used for tuition, learning materials, or tools,” he explained. “Our club members want to help students by providing a foundation to build upon for their chosen careers.”

DePoto, who works part-time for Gateway’s AT program, noted that the chapter’s support included paying for the graphics displayed on a 2014 Corvette donated to the college by General Motors. That vehicle helps train and recruit for Gateway’s state-of-the art automotive center at the North Haven campus.

“I’m proud every time I look at the CCCC logos on that car,” said DePoto, who retired after 25 years in Connecticut’s DMV Emission Division, where he was a Contract Compliance Officer before joining the team at Gateway. Today, he assists AT instructors, maintains the department’s tools and equipment, and manages its inventory.

While the college provides tools for general educational use, AT students must buy their own toolsets These big, multi-drawered, wheeled boxes full of customized automotive tools are required for internships and career opportunities, according to Dan Fuller, Professor and Chair of Gateway’s Automotive Technology Department. They aren’t cheap.

“Professional industry-specific standardized toolsets can run up to $3,000,” Fuller explained. “Many of our students have families to support or work full- or part-time, in addition to going to college. GCC Foundation grants help some of them manage that cost.”

In 2022, four AT students received GCC Foundation assistance to purchase toolsets. One student who received that help had this to say: “The toolset I received from the GCC Foundation has made a huge difference for me at my internship. Thank you!”

Thanks to a GCC Foundation scholarship, Joanna Perricone, a 2022 Automotive Technology graduate, was able to “pivot” careers during the pandemic and attend Gateway full time. Watch her thank-you video below.

While you may not be a “gearhead,” everyone has a passion! What’s yours? Music? Teaching? Running a business? Health care? Computers? Gateway Community College offers 90+ degree and certificate programs that can help fuel and fund students’ dreams of an exciting future career, a new job in a different industry, or a promotion in an organization they already love! If you’d like to help someone’s dream come true, please consider a scholarship contribution at

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