woman gets Wheels of Success
September 7, 2009
While Labor Day may be a little special for
everyone who gets an extra day off work, for
one local woman it will be the beginning of
a new life.
Jessica Ostrofsky, 31, of St. Petersburg
is a single mother with three children.
Because she doesn’t have a vehicle
of her own, she has to rely on the Pinellas
Suncoast Transit system and the help of
her friends to get her children to daycare
and herself to work at State Farm Insurance
But thanks to Wheels of Success, come
Labor Day Ostrofsky will be the proud owner
of 1991 Honda Accord.
“It’s absolutely going to
change my life,” Ostrofsky said.
Right now her day begins at 5:30 a.m.
She catches the first of three buses at
6:55 a.m. to a friend’s house who
take her children to daycare. Then she
rushes off to make her next bus connections.
Still, she usually arrives at work a minute
or two late, she said.
It’s a hectic life, but fortunately
her boss understands and her friends pitch
in even though she pays them for their
Ostrofsky learned about Wheels of Success
through her CASA advocate. She is currently
living in CASA housing after leaving an
abusive relationship. Then she took the
next step and went online to learn about
“Wheels of Success is dedicated
to providing personal transportation solutions
by partnering with the community in a circle
of support to keep people working and sustain
their independence,” according to
the nonprofit organization’s mission
Wheels of Success was incorporated in
June 2003 to help families obtain or continue
work by providing them with reliable transportation
through a program of car repairs, vehicle
replacement, related licensing services,
car payments, down payments and car-care
classes in both Hillsborough, Pinellas
and Pasco counties, according to information
found on its Web site, www.wheelsofsuccess.com.
Ostrofsky said she asked her boss and
her CASA advocate for a referral, and then
filled out the Wheels of Success application.
On Monday, Sept. 7, she will be one of
20 who will receive vehicles thanks to
the donations of others. She will have
to ask her friends for help one more time
to take her to the Family Justice Center
in Tampa where she’ll receive the
keys to her car.
This is the fourth year Wheels of Success
will be giving out 20 vehicles to residents
of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties
who are employed full-time and in need
of transportation-related services to continue
working and supporting their families.
This hasn’t been an easy year to
find vehicles, according to Gregg Laskoski,
managing director of public relations for
AAA Auto Club South.
Laskoski, who serves on the Wheels for
Success Board of Directors, said the federal
government’s Cash for Clunkers program
discouraged many folks from donating their
“Despite the fact that it’s
(Cash for Clunkers) jacked up used car
prices, we’ve managed again to receive
some donated vehicles and raise enough
money to be able to give out 20 vehicles
to local residents who are employed full-time
and in need for transportation to avoid
joining the ranks of the unemployed in
Tampa Bay,” he said.
Ostrofsky said as part of her job at State
Farm Insurance she is in contact with car
dealers who explained to her that a requirement
of the Cash for Clunkers program was that
any car traded in had to be destroyed,
meaning it could not be used for donations
to worthy causes like Wheels for Success
or dismantled for parts.
Recipients of Wheels for Success vehicles
don’t get their new ride for free.
They buy it from the program by making
monthly payments based on ability to pay,
as well as donating five service hours
per month to the organization.
Ostrofsky is really excited about getting
her new car. She won’t have to worry
about the problems of getting her children
to daycare or herself to work. The nightmare
of having to spend hours on a bus just
to get to a doctor’s appointment
and paying her friends to take her to the
grocery store will be all in her past.
She said her kids were excited and she
was looking forward to being able to do
more things together as a family.
“This is going to make me totally
independent,” she said. “That’s
been my main goal. I can’t wait.”
the Story on tbnweekly.com