Valley Toyota Dealers Association
McCafferty, dealer principal of Avondale Toyota, was impressed by Gellert’s plans for a nonprofit focusing on health navigation and transportation for Phoenix’s homeless population. The nonprofit is named in memory of Elaine Herzberg, a homeless woman killed after being struck by a vehicle in Tempe, Arizona, last year.
“Vivienne had a solution for improving the continuity of healthcare for individuals experiencing homelessness,” McCafferty said. “She is a delightful young woman who is articulate and motivated.”
McCafferty said Gellert’s age — she’s just 23 — didn’t surprise him.
“What I love about young people is that a lot of time young people see the problem more clearly and without judgment,” he said. “In youth, there’s that authenticity and compassion that gets eroded by people in their working prime.”
Within about 30 minutes of meeting Gellert, McCafferty said he knew he wanted Valley Toyota Dealers Association to donate two new vans to the nonprofit. Later, a Prius was also added.
The Valley TDA represents 10 dealers in the Greater Phoenix area: AutoNation Toyota Tempe, Avondale, Bell Road, Big Two, Camelback, Earnhardt, Larry H. Miller, Right, Riverview and Toyota of Surprise.
Gellert said she became aware of the need for healthcare navigation and transportation serving those experiencing homelessness while working in an inner-city hospital emergency room as a pre-med student. She graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s in pre-medicine from Arizona State University.
Elaine launched on Feb. 4, with seed funding from the Herzberg family. In its first 2.5 weeks, the nonprofit has made 32 transports involving 14 patients, including six hospital pickups and six prescription pickups. Elaine also arranged five shelter beds for their clients and met with clients to help schedule 18 follow-up healthcare appointments.
“I’m so appreciative of these vehicles,” Gellert said. “It makes this whole vision possible. The first client who got a ride looked at the driver and said, ‘I really feel like a rock star.’ It was so cool.”
To learn more about Elaine, check out https://elaineaz.org/