Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

East Pasco Meals on Wheels gets new kitchen thanks to other charity

ZEPHYRHILLS — The 35-year-old oven was so worn, baking pans had to be rotated every 20 minutes to keep food from burning. A steam table had to be propped up with pipe. And whenever one of the freezers broke down, volunteers scrambled to transfer hamburger to another one before it could thaw.

Such was life in the kitchen of the small white clapboard building that houses East Pasco Meals on Wheels, where every weekday morning at 6 a.m. a cook comes to prepare hot lunches for 85 elderly shut-ins.

No longer.

Thanks to $40,000 donated by staffers of Florida Medical Clinic and its nonprofit foundation, the charity has a newly remodeled kitchen.

"I feel like it's a dream," said Cindy Beson, director of the shoestring operation powered mainly by people whose only payment is the smiles on the faces of those who receive the hot lunches they deliver five days a week.

Efforts to raise money began in earnest last year when financial support for the agency was getting harder to come by.

For the past 30-plus years, East Pasco Meals on Wheels had earned about half of its income from recycling newspapers and aluminum cans. The rest comes from donations and meal payments; clients are asked to donate about $4 a meal to help cover costs, though needy ones receive reduced rates.

The nonprofit used to make almost $4,000 on a truckload of newsprint bound for the recycler. But the economy took its toll and the same truckload of newsprint fetched $700.

Beson was desperate. She filled out every grant application she could. A friend came by one day and saw all the packets. The friend, who works at Florida Medical Clinic, picked one up and took it to her boss.

The clinic staff took it from there. Beson compared it to an old-fashioned barn raising.

They put on a bowling fundraiser in July that raised about $20,000. The clinic's nonprofit foundation matched it.

The result: state-of-the-art stainless steel kitchen appliances, including a walk-in cooler and freezer that was installed this past fall.

Beson estimates that just updating those two things saves the agency $75 to $100 a month on electricity bills.

"People see the value in what we do, and why it's so important, said Beson, who is one of only four employees. "These are elderly shut-ins and people who can't cook for themselves."

Beson said the volunteers are so dedicated, they often do more than the meal deliveries.

She recently learned that one volunteer was bringing a 96-year-old woman a McDonald's cheeseburger each Sunday.

When gas prices shot up to $4 a gallon a couple of years ago, not one volunteer walked away or asked for a mileage reimbursement.

Their mind-set regarding clients are "these are my people," Beson said.

A deeply religious woman who has crosses on the wall near her desk, Beson called the kitchen an answer to a 2-year-old prayer and says it's proof God is "still in the miraclemaking business."

The 54-year-old cites herself as another example.

The survivor of 18 operations, including open-heart surgery, she said she's happy to able to make a difference.

Whenever anyone credits her with helping rescue the agency, she says "I'm just an instrument," and points upward.

Lisa Buie can be reached at buie@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4604.

East Pasco Meals on Wheels gets new kitchen thanks to other charity 03/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 18, 2010 8:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Buccaneers defense was among NFL's best when its pressure got to the QB

    Bucs

    It doesn't matter how many times they've thrown a football. It doesn't matter how many seasons they've played. It doesn't matter whether they have a degree from Harvard or Central Florida.

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recorded 6.5 sacks last season, but many of his other contributions didn't show up in the box scores. [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]

  2. What you need to know for Thursday, June 29

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    See that thing in the water? No? That's the point. It's that time of the year when stingrays are often lurking in the sand, often not visibly. Remember to do the stingray shuffle if you're out at the beach this weekend. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  3. Pinellas beaches seeing fewer injuries from stingrays, but the summer is still young

    Environment

    FORT DE SOTO — Rebecca Glidden leaned back in her lifeguard chair, watching behind sunglasses as families splashed in the water at Fort De Soto's North Beach.

    A Clearwater water safety supervisor demonstrates the stingray shuffle. Pinellas beaches are reporting relatively few injuries from stingrays so far this year, but they anticipate more as the summer wears on. Officials are reminding beachgoers to do the shuffle when they enter the water and keep an eye out for purple flags flying from the lifeguard towers, which indicate stingray activity. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  4. Weeki Wachee River advocates agree to work to resolve issues

    Local Government

    WEEKI WACHEE — Degradation of the Weeki Wachee River is a complex mix of circumstances, with a variety of jurisdictions holding the authority to fix the problems. That has made finding solutions over the years more about frustration than success.

    A boat and kayak drift into one another as they share the narrow passage near Rogers Park on the Weeki Wachee River in March. Advocates fear too many vessels are damaging the river.
  5. Despite change in Cuba policy, cruise ships sail on

    Tourism

    TAMPA -- It's smooth sailing for cruises from Tampa to Havana, with the first of Carnival Cruise Line's 12 such excursions launching today, two months after Royal Caribbean's initial voyage from Port Tampa Bay to the island.

    The Empress of the Seas cruise ship docks at the Port Tampa Bay Cruise Terminal 3 in Tampa. President Donald 

Trump's new Cuba policy may not hurt cruises to Havana at all. In fact, it may help these cruises. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times