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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Wheels of Success, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Human Services, Transportation Assistance

Mission: Wheels of Success helps keep working people working so that they are able to support themselves and provide for their families.

Results: Throughout ten years of community support, Wheels of Success has provided over 1000 transportation related services, including over 500 vehicles to Tampa Bay area families. Our goal is to raise funds to get more families on the road by providing vehicles to applicants who have been “waiting for wheels” and to help others by paying for needed repairs to vehicles they already own.

Target demographics: working families in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties who need reliable transportation to get to work, specifically including Veterans, Youth Aging out of Foster CAre, Patient Caregivers and Domestic Violence Survivors

Direct beneficiaries per year: 125-150

Geographic areas served: Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties

Programs: providing vehicles, car repairs and car care classes, as well as financial assistance with licensing, automobile insurance, car payments and down payments

Community Stories

50 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was presented with a "new to me" 2002 Honda Accord in March of 2016. I had recently earned a promotion, but due to the additional job responsibilities, I was told I had 30 days to get a car, or forfeit my promotion. After being referred by United Way, I was stunned when Susan called me just three days later to inform me that I would be receiving a car! My car has improved my life,my children's lives and the lives of those I serve at work. My commute used to be an hour and 10 minutes, 2 different buses and 2 miles of walking each way. Now my commute time is 12 minutes or less! This allows me to spend more quality time with my son, and I am home in time to cook a healthy meal, rather than order take-out. My son was about to enter high school when I received my Honda (that I named Grace!) We have been able to attend all of his high school functions, including homecoming, football games, orientation and more. I save money because now I can drive to the grocery store and get fresh food instead of being limited to "just what I can carry" from the "dollar store", the only food store within walking distance. We are able to go to preventative doctor appointments and recently, my son and his friends enjoyed a day at Chasco Fiesta, something that would have been hard to impossible to do prior to Grace. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't feel grateful for Grace and the ways that "she" has improved our lives. I thought I understood how much my life would change when Susan handed me the keys, but I had no idea that those keys would truly be my keys to success!

Client Served

Rating: 4

i'm especially excited to be able to do more for the people in my immediate community
and with this gift i can.
THE GIFT
Its always the season for giving here as THE WHEELS OF SUCCESS offers a two-fold gift to a Desert Storm Veteran, Angela Gilmore. "i'm gracious for the like-new Honda Accord gift and the amenities that accompany it; such as the maintenance and continual support toward staying a successful car owner through out my next car owning experience," Angela gleamed at the wheel of her new car. She is not just a government employee whose position depends on reliable transportation she fervently serves in the church choir as well as prayer ministry but found all the walking day or night, to be in attendance, taking a toll on her arthritic knees. Now shes elated about dedicating the gift as a gift to help some one else. " its not just to keep my job which depends heavily on being able to travel, but also will enable me to be more useful in the service of mission and outreach." Thanks a lot to all the staff and volunteers at Wheels of Success

Client Served

Rating: 5

Since getting my car i have kept stable income. Also i have the ability to take my kids to different parks as we love the outdoors.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wheels of Success was a great program very loving and caring.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My family and myself received a car from wheels of success.. wheels of success a great organization. I am so happy and pleased.

Cassandra H K.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I work at Wheels of Success as a Marketing Coordinator helping with social media, website changes, email PR, Videos events and print graphics when needed. I think it is important to mention why I will go to the ends of the earth for this charity. Growing up my family was middle class and worked very hard but I watched over and over again my family and others struggle when the car broke down. The financial burden that would come close to destroying everything. On top of that was the domino effect it would cause because the parents couldn't or were at risk of not being able to get to work only compounding the problem. Every time I take pictures or video of a car going out I know it is one family that is in a far more stable position in life just because of that vehicle and the repair services that Wheels of Success provides.

John Linell Watts I.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I joined the Board of Wheels in 2010 because I saw the great things they were doing to help Working Families who wanted to continue working and improve themselves. Over the years I have seen many success stories from our clients. Their stories would bring tears to your eyes on how they have improved their situations and in many cases moved up in their jobs to become leaders.

Board Member

Rating: 5

The thing that I appreciate most about Wheels of Success is that it is a hand up for folks in our great state that need transportation. They work with the applicants holistically on the car ownership so that they are setting people up for success!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Donated a car to them and saw it go to a very deserving young person who needed it in order to prevent her from losing her job and, potentially, losing her housing. Great organization who needs your support. Presently, I also sit on the board and am amazed at all of the great stories from the folks that Wheels helps.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I heard of wheels of success thur metropolitan ministries they accepted me in the car program they gave me a Nissan maxima 2003 it really helped me get back in forth from work in also to class to finish my Ged in all so too look for a better job I love the program it helped me out so much i no longer have to wait on bus too get to appointments in also helped me out picking my daughter up on time from school

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a Navy veteran, I first came to be aware of Wheels Of Success, Inc. through a friend approximately 12-15 yrs. ago, but never followed up even though I needed a vehicle. So, fast forwarding, I acquired & lost a few vehicles over the yrs. and went through several job changes which prepared me for this point in my life. After an episode of being homeless, I entered the HUD/VASH program for homeless vets. Through my CWT counselor, I was reintroduced to the Wheels Of Success program & after visiting the Tampa HUD office one day, I walked further down the street & introduced myself to Susan Jacobs who was in the office & stated that she doesn't accept walk-ins, that I needed to be referred by an agency. However, she made an exception for me & the wheels started rolling, so to speak! First, I reacquired an apt., then, I was offered a position at the local veteran's hospital & with the generosity of someone who donated a vehicle that Wheels is repairing, I'm on the road to owning & driving a vehicle that will enhance my life & career in numerous & invaluable ways thanks to the Wheels Of Success, Inc. program.

Client Served

Rating: 4

such a wonderful organization. i highly stand for what these wonderful people do. i was lost for direction and traveling by foot/bus. I was taking jobs that were given to me and reciveing less than min wage from time to time. I had been bus bound my entire life after a life changing incident where my mother lost her car. once the car was lost the bus it was for us all. Now im a cellphone and electronics repiar technician (probably one of the best in tampa bay) i used to carry 30 lbs of tools in a tool bag and my laptop and other things in a backpack on my back. sometimes would carry fresh parts on public transportation or on foot. i did sometimes break brand new parts. that was horrible. however i recieved a call one day after filling an application and the call was wheel of success. They told me i had beed approved for a car and must attend a car care class and insure myself. i got the quote, and surprisingly was given a vehicle. since given the vehicle life has been a tremendous learning experience and a tremendous adventure. i no longer had the time restraints of the bus and bus schedules. i could carry tools and parts in my trunk. i was able to go mobile and fix more cell phones abroad. its honestly greatly appreciated what has been done for me.just want to say thanks Wheels of Success. thanks much for everything i definately dont mind volenteering with them even when i exhausted. again thanks wheels.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a single mother in Pinellas and while most of my kids have grown up, I started over with my son, Brandon who is 7 years old. He is the light of my life and my whole world but struggles with Autism and has special therapeutic needs. Without a vehicle I had to depend on friends and my older children for rides EVERYWHERE. I could not stand being a burden on anyone, every time I had to ask my friends and family for rides it caused me a lot of anxiety. I had no choice the rides were needed to get to work or get necessitates like groceries when I couldn’t get there by bus. Although I was working full time without Wheels of Success it would have been impossible for me to get a vehicle due to my having poor credit, as well as no money for a down payment and high monthly car payments. My finances were already stretched to the max providing specialty therapy and all the extra needs that a child with Autism requires.
I am a very giving person and always a good friend, wanting to do nice things for all of those around me. As a Wheels of Success applicant i saw the organization’s needs and wanted to help. I came in for countless hours on many Saturdays, despite needing to obtain rides every time. The CEO saw my organizations skills, passion and willingness to go the extra mile and talked to me about a position with Wheels of Success. In order to take the position I needed a reliable vehicle, especially since I live in Pinellas and Wheels of Success’ office is in Tampa. I was presented with my “New to Me” 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer earlier this year and now I have my “Keys to Success”. The vehicle was made possible due to a grant from Bank of America expanding Wheels of Success’ programs in Pasco and Pinellas County. I am now working for Wheels of Success and I am happy I get to help other families like mine get vehicles they desperately need to get to work and maintain their independence.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wheel of Success has made a great impact on my life and I would like to thank them as well as the donors of the car that has changed my children’s and my life in so many ways. We were provided with a gate way to success and health. This vehicle has provided me with a way of not worrying about how I would have to continually have to take time off from work to take two to three buses to get to a doctor’s appointment.
About 3 years ago I was diagnosed with Gastroparesia an effect of bring a type one diabetic.
These illnesses have caused me to be in and out of the hospital numerous of times, visits to specialist. Doctors, and counselors put a strain on me physically and financially and risk of losing my job due to all the time I would have to take off trying yo make every appointment I could. Being a single mother of 2 teenaged girls with no other income was becoming very over whelming having to make sure we could make it to places when we needed, just a simple thing as going to the grocery store was straining. There were times that I thought I was going to lose my job because it was a all day process to take 2 sometimes 3 buses to get to a doctor’s appointment. When I got the call from Wheels of Success it was life changing my children and I now have the means and way of getting to appointments without having to worry about taking so much time off from work, my health has improved due to being able to make appointments and my children have been able to join activities and get jobs of their own. Without the help from Wheels of success and the donors I don’t think we would be in the place we are today so I would like to thank you and all your help and kindness and for this program that not only help me succeed but helping my family become more dependent and saving my health. I am truly thankful for being a part of this program and appreciate the car so much.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a Disabled Veteran who was having difficulty regaining employment and,after 6 months of job searching and being on the verge of homelessness, I finally became reemployed and my CareerSource Tampa Bay DVOP Career Counselor, Michael Reulas, referred me to Wheels of Success. When I came to the car care class, I was driving a 1998 Mazda pickup with over 200,000 miles on it. Within my first month of employment, the clutch began to fail and I was facing a repair cost of over $1,300 as well as a loss of work time and pay as I had not worked long enough to earn any paid time off. When I contacted Wheels of Success with this news, they immediately set to work trying to find me a vehicle.
Within about 2 weeks, I received notification that a vehicle had been secured for me if I chose to accept it, which I gladly did.
I feel that Wheels of Success has significantly improved my life. I could not afford the necessary repairs to my previous vehicle and it was becoming less and less reliable.
Receiving a vehicle from Wheels of Success has eased a lot of stress, wondering if my vehicle will get me to and from work and other places. I had really cut my travels to the bare minimum in order to preserve the truck. With the vehicle I received from Wheels of Success, I feel I have reliable transportation I am a Disabled Veteran who was having difficulty regaining employment and,after 6 months of job searching and being
on the verge of homelessness, I finally became reemployed and my CareerSource Tampa Bay DVOP Career Counselor, Michael, referred me to Wheels of Success. When I came to the car care class, I was driving a 1998 Mazda pickup with over 200,000 miles on it. Within my first month of employment, the clutch began to fail and I was facing a repair cost of over $1,300 as well as a loss of work time and pay as I had not worked long enough to earn any paid time off. When I contacted Wheels of Success with this news, they immediately set to work trying to find me a vehicle.
Within about 2 weeks, I received notification that a vehicle had been secured for me if I chose to accept it, which I gladly did.
I feel that Wheels of Success has significantly improved my life. I could not afford the necessary repairs to my previous vehicle and it was becoming less and less reliable. Receiving a vehicle from Wheels of Success has eased a lot of stress,
wondering if my vehicle will get me to and from work and other places. I had really cut my travels to the bare minimum in order to preserve the truck. With the vehicle I received from Wheels of Success, I feel I have reliable transportation and a reliable repair shop that cares for the Wheels of Success vehicles. In addition, I have met new people and had fun volunteering at events that I would never have attended otherwise. and a reliable repair shop that cares for the Wheels of Success vehicles. In addition, I have met new people and had fun volunteering at events that I would never have attended otherwise.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Good morning! We are all excited in the Jones house about being blessed with a vehicle from Wheels of Success. My Broker, Mark called me last week and said he want me to take over Property Management for the brokerage! Duties include collecting payments, maintenance and more. I could not have accepted the new position without a vehicle. When I get my vehicle I will be able to take the reigns as the Property Manager of his company. Thank you Kathy, Susan and the rest of the staff and volunteers of Wheels of Success!
Yvette

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Right around my birthday in July 2016 I lost my car unintentionally. I felt devastated, and honestly did not exactly know what to do, but not to give up hope. Suddenly I was without any transportation, which made it hard not only to get my children to and from school, but to work as well. I was lucky the children were out of school, and if I would have not have my 17 year old daughter to watch her little brother and sister, I probably would have lost my job. About a year ago I got diagnosed with cancer and shortly thereafter my husband abandoned his family, and so I have been seeing a counselor at the Hillsborough Community College to cope with this situation. On one of my visits, I asked if he would know of any programs which may help me in the process of getting back transportation. So, he referred me to Wheels of Success. After my referral went in, I checked back with Wheels of Success, and talked to Susan, who asked me to attend without delay one of their car care classes. In the meantime, I have been walking every day a half hour to a bus stop to get to and home from work. Where I live, the bus stop is about a half hour away, and there is only 2 busses leaving in the morning and 2 coming back in the afternoon. When school started back up, I got 2 additional bikes, so I was able to ride with the two younger children to and from school. After dropping them off I was taking the bus to and from work. It happened on a few occasions that I missed the bus, and I had to ride my bike 20 minutes to catch another bus or ride the bike back home. These days where long for me and the children, and I barely got enough sleep, but I had to stay strong for my family. When Kathy finally called to tell me they have a car for me, I was so overwhelmed. I could not believe it at first until I have seen the car. The day I picked up my car made me feel so great. I was overly happy, and boy oh boy when I got the children, they were smiling all ears. I am finally able to get more rest, and not stress about to get on work on time or rely on someone else to pick up my children from school. Wheels of Success changed my life in the most positive way. I actually know I am loved by people and feel worth more than words can explain! A big THANK YOU to the Wheels of Success Team and to the person or family who donated the car, without your donation this would have not been possible!!!!

Sonja

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wheels of Success is a program that allowed me to keep my job. I was paying $34 daily on Uber and honestly I was just about out of saved funds to do that. My beautiful oldsmobile that wheels has assisted me in obtaining gets me to work, grocery store, and appointments for me and my children. Wheels has returned quality of life to me, and financial stability. I will always be grateful.
Sincerely,
Rebecca

Client Served

Rating: 5

A vehicle from Wheels of Success has blessed our family so much. My husband is able to work extra shifts at work. My 4 year old daughter and I no longer need to cross 60/Brandon Blvd. to make our bus from school to home. She can ride in the car to school, church, museum days, birthday parties, and sleep overs. We no longer have to walk to the grocery store with our stroller or pay for Uber. We can drive to the grocery store and Dr. Appts. I can stay for late parent teacher conference night's or meetings and drive home without worrying about how I will get home in the dark.

This week I am signing our daughter up for gymnastics at the ymca. Ymca' s in Brandon are not accessible by city bus. Last spring to do the free swim lessons during spring break. I walked 6 miles one day to get my daughter to and from the ymca by stroller. The rest of the week I paid for Uber to get her there. This time, it is a joy to be able to drive her to gymnastics class at the ymca.

Our dog was sick a few weeks ago. We drove to The Humane Society and waited at the clinic for cheaper Medical care. Without the car it would have taken all day to ride buses out there and more uncomfortable for our sick dog. Or we would have spent money on uber. Money we needed for our sick dog.

This car has blessed our family immensely. Thank you.

Emma

Client Served

Rating: 5

First, I'd like to thank Wheels of Success for giving me the opportunity to better myself and my family. I recently within the year, lost everything and have been trying to pick myself along with my three children. Which it has been the hardest, yet most humbling thing I've ever had to do. It's so reassuring that I don't have to worry about can my kids make it to tomorrow on time? Am I going to be able to make it to work tomorrow? Being without a vehicle, was my only obstacle, I have no doubt in my mind that I will be successful, now that I have my own vehicle, all thanks to Wheels of Success.
Sincerely,
Ida