Wheels of Success: Families
trade in bus pass for cars
Tampa, Florida - Every wonder how important
a car is to your everyday life, from going
to work, taking you kids to school, running
errands or going away on vacation could you
be without it? Many families don't have a car
and depend on public transportation or rides
from family and friends. Today, 45 families
receive the key unlocking their road to independence.
"This is the best birthday present I've
ever gotten. I turned 35 on Saturday," says
Yvette Williamson. Despite the challenges she
faces, this single mother of two and grandmother
is driven to succeed and the ride just got
smoother. The full-time student and full-time
worker is trading in her bus pass for a minivan.
Williamson has been without a car for two
years. "It could have been a box with
wheels. We could have Fred Flintstoned it all
the way home and not matter," says Williamson.
She adds, "It's awesome, it's great. There's
plenty of room."
Williamson says she and her 17-year-old daughter,
6-year-old son and 3-year-old granddaughter
walk eight blocks to catch the bus. "It's
kind of hard going grocery shopping or doing
laundry using the bus," says Williamson.
She stopped attending classes in Human Services
at St. Pete College, because she says riding
the bus takes too much time away from her children,
so she's been taking classes online. Williamson
says now with a car, she can get back into
Yvette is one of 45 families receiving donated
cars through the program Wheels of Success.
This is the 5th annual car "Working Wheels
Keep Families Working" Labor Day Event.
"It's a life changer, not just for me,
for everyone here," says Rafael Martinez.
The father of two says his new donated car
gives him back his independence. "It's
been very complicated doing things with my
kids getting them to school picking them up
on the weekends. I had to rely on friends and
family," says Martinez.
The families don't earn the titles on the
car just yet. First they will have to pay about
$50 a month for the next year and volunteer
three hours a month for Wheels of Success,
and all that effort goes back to help families
"It's not just about a car, but about
a person's quality of life and where they are
going to be next year, because they have that
car," says Susan Jacobs, founder and CEO
of Wheels of Success. The organization has
given away 346 vehicles and 365 car-related
services in five years.
For a second year, Wheels of Success teams
up with former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Ryan Nece's
Foundation and his Power of Giving Campaign.
"The Power of Giving is each of us as
individuals at any given moment at any given
day do random acts of generosity to make our
world a better place. If we all embrace that,
we can do something powerful, something big.
It does not have to be 55 cars, it can be 55
smiles in a week. Whatever you choose to do,
as long as you choose to make a difference," says
The former football player says the people
he helps along with Wheels of Success are a
true inspiration. "It's amazing the challenges
they are presented with, yet they continue
to move on. They continue to strive and they
continue to have hope. With our foundation,
we give them a helping hand up, not a helping
Nece then adds, "They continue to do
positive things in the community. I'm inspired.
These people have the courage, the strength
and commitment to continue and try to make
a difference in our area."
As Williamson prepares to drive off she says, "If
anyone needs a ride, I'm volunteering! Thank
you Wheels of Success."
of Success is Tampa Bay's only 501(c)3 nonprofit organization
providing a full range of transportation solutions, including
vehicle replacement; car repair; and licensing, car payment and
down payment assistance to low and moderate income working families.
A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.