Success Story: Melissa and Nicole

Coming of age in the foster care system with no family standing by to provide support when starting life on your own is challenging–especially without reliable transportation. To help steer these teens down the right road, Wheels of Success partnered with Connected by 25, Hillsborough Kids, Inc., Camelot Community Care and Ready for Life to implement Wheels to the Future, a program to assist youth aging out of foster care with their transportation needs.

Recognizing that personal transportation is vital to independence and self-sufficiency, the Eckerd Family Foundation provided the initial funding for this innovative program, and the program has continued to be successful thanks to additional funding from the Rotary Club of Tampa, DeBartolo Foundation, Community Foundation of St. Petersburg and most recently from the Rays Baseball Foundation. Several young adults have been given keys to their future, including Nicole and Melissa, sisters who were raised in the local foster care system–and who were our special guest speakers at our 5th annual R.A.C.E. awards luncheon.

Nicole shared her inspiring story of triumph over hardships. Although her childhood was difficult, Nicole’s future is looking bright. She just finished an internship and is working on her Master’s degree in Social Work and Public Policy Administration. Nicole was joined by her younger sister, Melissa, who received a car through the Wheels to the Future program last year. Melissa has successfully completed the program by “paying it forward” and received the title to her car at the luncheon, along with the pride and responsibility of car ownership.