Monday, June 18, 2018
News Roundup

Sue Carlton: Humanity's new address

They had just served the last hot lunch to the homeless and hungry that day at Trinity Cafe, had just closed the heavy door to the old building near downtown Tampa. Volunteers were scraping plates and mopping floors when somebody knocked.

He was a thin man, and Cindy Davis, the day's coordinator, had to tell him they were done and he should come back tomorrow. Then a little boy stepped forward. Don't feed me, the man said. Feed my son.

Davis, today Trinity's program director, remembers him years later, remembers so many of them. Somehow, Trinity served hundreds of thousands of meals to the hungry, and there are always hungry, inside that dingy, crowded space upstairs in a Salvation Army building. And not in a soup line, but at tables with steaming entrees set down by servers who pour drinks and make sure bread baskets don't go empty.

Maybe it's the basic decency of the goal here, meals served with dignity and without judgment for the single reason that people are hungry, that keeps volunteers coming back — some for years. Even a City Council member or two has tied on an apron at Trinity. Maybe this is also why, thanks to donations large and small, a new freestanding Trinity Cafe — a $1 million project — opens its doors Tuesday on the edge of downtown.

Not that it is for the faint of heart, this glimpse into the homeless and working poor, sometimes into addiction and mental illness and stories unbearably sad. One volunteer server bolted, saying it was too hard to hear. Regular diners with street-scuffed backpacks holding the whole of their lives become friends to Trinity workers, then disappear. As a volunteer I once sat with a man with an Alabama accent who talked about life in jail and maybe one day seeing his kids.

If you were ever inside the sad, old space with its single shared bathroom, the modest new dark beige building on Nebraska Avenue will be a wonder: Covered space outside so people won't wait in the blazing sun or pouring rain. Sunny yellow floors and soft green walls. A small stage, even, for volunteers to entertain. An herb garden under construction for the man in chef whites, Alfred Astl.

A five-star chef who these days gets raves for his rich sauces and his cheeseburgers alike, Chef Alfred now has enough freezer space to buy food when it's cheap and store it. (Money gets especially tight in summer.) He can no longer complain about a lack of heat lamps to keep the food hot. And when he shows me the shiny new garbage disposal — no more wet, smelly garbage to be hauled outside — he is a kid at Christmas.

The patchy, historic, urban neighborhood around the new digs is boarded-up bungalows next to beautifully restored ones, with residents understandably leery of Trinity and its clientele. But Davis says a couple have stopped by and said they might even volunteer. Trinity will do that to you.

That day years ago, the thin man and his son were brought in, and volunteers in aprons served them soup, the chef's hot entree and dessert. (Always dessert, the red velvet cake being a crowd favorite.)

Davis remembers the father showing the boy how to put his napkin on his lap and how to use his fork properly — and how everyone tried not to get too teary-eyed when he said, "Son, you're in a fine restaurant here."

Comments
Rays journal: A 4-0 lead disappears in loss at Houston

Rays journal: A 4-0 lead disappears in loss at Houston

HOUSTON — The Rays brought up several of their top prospects so they can get as much experience as possible.And Monday that included seeing how the relentless defending champion Astros worked their way back from an early four-run deficit to sco...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella pondered upside-down pitching in 2005

Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella pondered upside-down pitching in 2005

HOUSTON — Well before the idea of using a reliever to open games, as the Rays did against the Astros Monday for the 12th time, and then bringing in a starter was even a gleam in the eyes of the current Rays staff, former manager Lou Piniella wa...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Nazi or not? Tattoo sparks Twitter storm over wounded New Port Richey veteran

Nazi or not? Tattoo sparks Twitter storm over wounded New Port Richey veteran

The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is pushing back against a social media post implying that a combat-wounded New Port Richey veteran has a Nazi symbol tattooed on his arm.In a tweet Monday afternoon, ICE officials denied the vete...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pinellas protesters: Stop separating families at the border

Pinellas protesters: Stop separating families at the border

Protests were held on both ends of Pinellas County on Monday in opposition to the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents as they seek asylum at the U.S. border."Children are not pawns," "No kids in cages" and "I would...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Deadly Sunday for swimmers in bay area waters

Deadly Sunday for swimmers in bay area waters

Two people drowned and another suffered life-threatening injuries in the waters of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.Investigators said all three cases appear to be accidents, but the incidents stand as a reminder that summer, with vacation ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Private Florida firm buys Rent-A-Center in $1 billion deal

Private Florida firm buys Rent-A-Center in $1 billion deal

An Orlando private equity firm has purchased lease-to-own business Rent-A-Center in a deal valued at more than $1 billion.Vintage Capital Management put a bid in for the company on Friday: $15 per share, $1 per share above its previous offer. Rent-A-...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Report: 40 percent of Florida property will be ‘highly exposed’ to flooding

Report: 40 percent of Florida property will be ‘highly exposed’ to flooding

One of Florida’s biggest draws is also one if its biggest liabilities — its coastline. A new report projects that Florida is at the greatest risk of any state for tidal flooding caused by rising sea levels. And Tampa Bay faces some of the greatest ri...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

SEMINOLE — She was 22 when deputies said a man forced her at knifepoint into the woods off Seminole Boulevard and sexually battered her in February 1987.The case went cold, but now the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said it has arrested the man it ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

TAMPA — Iceland isn't what it used to be. Literally. The Nordic island country is shrinking, what with global warming. Iceland's glaciers are getting smaller. If you took all that ice and laid it end to end, well, you clearly have nothing bette...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and drove off

Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and drove off

TAMPA — Police are seeking the public’s help in locating the driver who fatally struck a pedestrian on Sunday night and then drove off.The incident took place at 9:15 p.m. near the intersection of N Nebraska Avenue and E Linebaugh Avenue.No details a...
Updated: 5 hours ago