Melissa Pack finally has a car she can call her own.
The Zephyrhills woman received the keys to a 2000 Hyundai Elantra at the United Way of Pasco County, in Land O’ Lakes, on Oct. 1.
Before she received the car, the 37-year-old had no personal means of transportation.
Spectators watched at the ceremony where Pack received the car, which came complete with a big red bow.
The gift was made possible through the collaboration of Wheels of Success and United Way of Pasco County.
Wheels of Success CEO Susan Jacobs offered a few words, before presenting the keys to Pack, who works as a cashier at the Lowes Home Improvement store in Zephyrhills.
Those celebrating the moment included Pack’s supervisor, John Chilbert; Pasco County Commissioner Ron Oakley; and Alice Delgardo, president of United Way of Pasco.
Chilbert was the one who worked behind-the-scenes to help get the car for Pack.
He took notice of his employee’s unwavering dedication, and the fact that Pack had never missed a shift and voluntarily worked additional hours. He also knew that she accomplished that without having her own transportation.
So, along with the Make a Difference charity, Chilbert referred Pack’s current situation to Wheels of Success and United Way to see what could be done.
“For every person we put in a car, we turn down 20,” Jacobs said. “We do about 50 to 100 cars a year on average.”
Established in 2003, Wheels of Success doesn’t receive government funding. It relies on vehicle and community donations.
Jacobs explained the importance of collaborating with other organizations, as about 80 percent of their car giveaways have been joint efforts.
Its partner, United Way of Pasco County, allocated grant money on a quarterly basis to help finance the car.
“We were able to, because of community dollars, grant them funding to do this,” said United Way’s Patty Sutton of the local support.
Through the partnership, Pack was put on the ‘Build a Life’ program, which is intended to help get drivers on their feet after having setbacks of some kind.
Pack will also receive evaluations to make sure the vehicle is up to par with its expected standards, and she has year-long roadside assistance with AAA through Wheels of Success.
In addition to giving her a way to get to work, the car is beneficial in other ways, too, Pack said.
“I’ll be able to get groceries easier, day-to-day things that people don’t think about when they have a car,” said Pack.
She realizes that it not only helps her directly, but it also has a positive impact on those who rely on her as well.
Before receiving the Elantra, Pack had to find a way to get her mother to her doctor appointments. Sometimes that meant borrowing a friend’s vehicle.
Sutton hopes the community understands that their generous donations ultimately help to make life better for people like Pack.
“You’re not helping an organization, and you’re not giving a hand-out. You’re helping an individual,” Sutton said.
Published October 10, 2018