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‘Get Back on Your Feet’ winner picks up the keys

It was difficult to determine who was more overjoyed last Tuesday, local business owner Tom Saitta, or Pahrump resident Connie Robbins.

Saitta and business partner Don Trudeau of Saitta-Trudeau Jeep Chrysler Dodge dealership were both beaming with excitement after handing the keys of a brand new Dodge Dart over to Robbins.

It was all part of the duo’s new program created to help a local resident or family to “Get Back on Your Feet” for the start of 2014.

On Tuesday, an emotional Robbins said she was overwhelmed after learning she was chosen for the inaugural program.

“I never thought I would be the one to win it. I just never thought I would get selected and I really love the color. My daughter said she wanted a red one but I got to choose the color,” she said. Her choice was blue.

Robbins is presently taking job training classes at NyE Communities Coalition.

Her daughter, a junior at Pahrump Valley High School, is enrolled in advance placement and honors courses.

Both volunteer their time working in the community with various organizations and their church.

Trudeau said the dealership just wanted to do something to give back to the community, which for many years has supported the business.

“There are a lot of people in need out there and many are just one paycheck away from losing their home or car. Obviously we can’t help them all, but we wanted to look at a way that could at least help someone and transportation is a big thing in people’s lives,” he said.

Individuals may be nominated if they or someone else writes local media outlets or the dealership with a reason why they deserve the use of the vehicle.

In Robbins’ case, getting around town has indeed been a challenge for quite some time. She lost her job more than two years ago when her employer closed their business.

A close friend, who has been helping Robbins get back on her feet, wrote in on her behalf.

Leslie Huntington, ministry coordinator for Faith Fellowship church explained her friend’s situation.

“We have a single mother with a teenage daughter living in a house we own. She pays her own living expenses and utilities. We started this after they lost their previous living arrangement. Her current car will not make the drive to Las Vegas and it’s on its last days. We have helped her fix it and try to keep her able to job hunt but having a better car that would make it to Las Vegas, would open up the job market tremendously and it would change their lives,” Huntington wrote.

Robbins was selected from more than 100 entries received.

A special selection committee consisting of representatives from Pahrump’s media community went through all of the correspondence and eventually agreed that Robbins would be the best candidate.

One important aspect of the program focused on which candidate would most likely find themselves in a better position financially, one year later.

“We are looking for somebody who will truly benefit from this program, not someone who will find themselves in the same situation after the year is up.” Trudeau said. “We want someone where this will really make a difference in their life,” he said.

Saitta said the program is not just a “giveaway.” It is an opportunity for the winner to get back on their feet.

He also said that the dealership will provide maintenance on the vehicle throughout the year.

“This will be an ongoing program and we plan to do it again next year,” he said.

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