| Mike Vogel | August 1, 2010
Trendsetters - Non-profits
Running a staffing agency, Susan Jacobs encountered
a recurring problem in placing people in low-wage
jobs in the clerical and hospitality fields.
Bus schedules didn’t work out, and if
prospects did have a car, they lacked one with
the stamina for a daily commute.
"This piece wasn’t being addressed," says
Jacobs. To address it, in 2003 she founded
Wheels of Success, a Tampa non-profit that
puts needy working people in a functional car.
It gives away about 70 cars a year and helps
with repairs and services on another 70. The
cars, usually donated by individuals, are good
enough to last their new owners at least a
year. "This isn’t your dream car,
but hopefully it’s going to get you to
your dreams," Jacobs tells the recipients.
Jacobs knows from experience. Decades ago,
she left an abusive relationship and found
herself temporarily without transport. At Wheels,
half of her applicants are domestic violence
victims. Recipients donate three hours of service
a month in clerical work at Wheels, which keeps
overhead low, and pay a small percentage of
their income, on average $40 to $50 a month
toward repair of the vehicle, to help the organization.
Jacobs gets enough vehicles to supply only
one in five qualified applicants. The federal
cash-for-clunkers program hurt by reducing
the number of functional vehicles available
for Jacobs’ clientele. A woman who enjoys
networking, Jacobs, 60, is always prospecting
for car donors and support. "If I’m
eating out at a restaurant, they get a (business)
card along with a tip."
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