Action GM teams up with Rachael Ray Show to give new car to deserving college student

(Photo: David M. Russell/The Rachael Ray Show)
(Photo: David M. Russell/The Rachael Ray Show)
(Photo: David M. Russell/The Rachael Ray Show)

Tashana Shields, a sophomore at Florida State University, got a big surprise when she appeared on The Rachel Ray Show Thursday.

Shields, a formerly homeless college student, was invited to the program along with a Tallahassee bank teller who had been helping raise money to buy Shields a car.

Tashana talked with Rachel Ray about growing up in foster care with the dream of one day attending Florida State University. Ray and celebrity guest Nick Cannon, the host of America’s Got Talent, were impressed by how Tashana overcame challenges to pursue her education, including high rent costs and having to take the bus or walk from her apartment to class every day.

Then Cannon made Tashana cry happy tears when he told her that Action GM in Bainbridge was giving her a brand new Chevrolet Sonic for her to drive to school. Watch the video clip of Tashana being surprised with a new car on the Rachel Ray show:

Tashana Shields, a Florida State University (FSU) sophomore, and Denise Wilson, an associate with Capital City Bank, will appear on the Rachael Ray Show airing Thursday, April 23, 2015, on WTWC at 11 a.m. The national show will highlight Shields’ story as well as Wilson’s fundraising campaign to secure much-needed transportation for Shields.

As a youth in foster care, Shields resided at Children’s Home Society of Florida’s Nelle Smith residential home in Palm Beach, serving girls aged 13-17. When she was in high school, she participated in the organization’s Senate Page program and was hosted in Wilson’s home during her stay in Tallahassee. Following a tour of FSU, Shields set a goal to become a Florida State Seminole. Only a very small percentage of youth in foster care attend college, but despite the considerable challenges, Shields began her freshman year at FSU in the fall of 2013.

Since their initial meeting, Wilson knew Shields had big dreams and a bright future. Although Shields works a part-time job to cover her expenses in Tallahassee, she struggles to make ends meet. She recently received the opportunity to move into the Children’s Home Society of Florida’s TreeHouse Scholarship Home, a student residence helping young adults formerly in foster care transition to adulthood. Although this would reduce her housing expenses, Shields would need to rely on limited public transportation to get to school.

To help Shields further her education and achieve her dreams, Wilson spearheaded a GoFundMe fundraising campaign to buy Shields a car. Wilson’s campaign struck a chord within the local community, and to date, she has raised $2,700 of the $5,000 goal.

Wilson is director of corporate associate development of Star University, the in-house training and professional development department of Capital City Bank. A dedicated community volunteer and passionate advocate for children, she is an active member of United Way of the Big Bend and Keys To Exceptional Youth Services (KEYS). Wilson serves as Children’s Home Society of Florida’s Board Chair and chairs the annual Chef’s Sampler fundraiser.

Tashana Shields talks about becoming homeless at the age of 13 and later entering the foster care system

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