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Gettel Toyota donates vehicle to deserving veteran

Gettel Automotive Group donates car to Air Force veteran who now serves fellow team members as a Goodwill GoodPartner Coach



BRADENTON, FL – Many veterans face challenges upon their return to civilian life, due to their unique experiences during military services, any physical or emotional injuries they may have suffered, and changes in society and the workplace that they must adapt to. For one local veteran, Gettel Automotive Group has made a generous donation that will support his hard work and determination to lead a productive and happy life.

Veteran Ross LaPointe dedicated four years of his life to the U.S. Air Force, serving with distinction as a Public Health Technician from February 2009 to February 2013. Like many of our nation’s servicemen and women, though, once he returned to civilian life, he grappled with finding direction.


As a Sarasota native, LaPointe grew up immersed in the arts and culture. Memories of a summer at Ringling College of Art + Design during his middle school years illuminated a path forward: using his GI Bill benefits, he pursued his passion for illustration at Ringling College, graduating in 2020. However, securing stable employment in his chosen field proved challenging. He found himself juggling multiple part-time roles, hoping for a breakthrough. He sought career guidance through Goodwill Manasota's American Veterans and Their Families program, at the Veterans Services office.


Recognizing his skills and passion, the team recommended LaPointe for a position within the organization as a GoodPartner Coach. In this role, he assists his fellow team members with personal and professional guidance. While he was an instant fit for the organization, the job requires extensive travel and his aging truck was on its last legs, with failing AC – not comfortable in the sweltering Florida heat.


When Gettel Automotive Group – which donated a car to a deserving veteran last year – approached Goodwill for another candidate this year, they did not hesitate to nominate LaPointe for consideration and all were thrilled when he was selected.


“I’m so excited to see someone like Ross – with his stellar military service and his work with our organization – be selected for this gift,” says Todd Hughes, Goodwill Manasota’s Veterans Services program manager. “A reliable vehicle will not only ease his professional journey but will also stand as a testament to our collective acknowledgment of his hard work, dedication and spirit.”


LaPointe received a 2022 Toyota Rav4 LE FWD. Gettel Toyota handled the car registration on LaPointe’s behalf.


“As a GoodPartner coach, I frequently need to travel throughout our service area and my previous vehicle was nearing the end of its lifespan. Not having to choose between securing a vehicle and maintaining housing is a significant relief,” said LaPointe. “This gift will enable me to continue helping other Goodwill employees overcome the barriers they face to employment and work toward achieving their life goals. Thank you for this life-changing gift!”


“At Gettel Automotive Group, we are committed to supporting our communities, especially when it benefits those who sacrifice to serve others,” added James Gettel, President for Gettel Automotive Group.


LaPointe received the car at Gettel Toyota of Lakewood during the company’s holiday luncheon on December 11.


For more about Goodwill, visit experiencegoodwill.org.


PHOTO ID:

In attendance during the car giveaway were (back row, l-r) Todd Hughes, Jay Alexander, Manatee County Commissioner Jason Bearden, Todd Seth, Kurt Fisher, Ryan Fischer and David Kelly; (front row, l-r) Deb Kehoe, Bob Bisplinghoff, Ross LaPointe and Jim Gettel


Provided photo/Goodwill Manasota


About Goodwill Manasota

Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With philanthropic donations and revenue generated by the sales of donated goods, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities, veterans, seniors, and those with other barriers to employment by providing jobs, job skills training, and free career services. For more information or for a listing of locations, visit experiencegoodwill.org or call 941-355-2721.

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