Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Volunteers nourish the body and the spirit

Uncertainty ruled when Veronica Young knocked on the door of a little white house on Kentucky Avenue in northeast Tampa six years ago.

As she stood waiting with a nutritious lunch, Young thought it was just another stop on her Meals on Wheels of Tampa delivery route. She had no idea the two strangers — a little white-haired woman and a big brown dog — awaiting on the other side would grow to shape her life.

"I didn't realize at that time it was going to be the beginning of a really beautiful friendship," said Young, the evening on-air personality for WQYK-99.5 FM.

Myrtle Baker invited Young in, assuring her that Lucky, her lovable hound, wouldn't hurt a flea. Soon, the weekly visits became routine. Baker always offering warm conversation, Lucky always begging for Young's attention.

Sometimes Baker would share stories about her work in downtown Tampa building where she changed out the elevator "Muzak," which was sort of like Young's job as a DJ.

Sometimes they just sat and watched The Price Is Right.

"Sometimes it was nothing that was a big deal," Young said. "She would always save the Publix ad for me because she knows I love shopping at Publix. We would always talk about the buy one, get one free offers. Crystal Light is our favorite, by the way."

Week after week, Young shared stories about her "crazy, busy life," and week after week, Baker comforted her by saying, "Well, honey, make sure you get some rest."

When Young married local singer Jason Young, Baker gave her some recipe magazines. Young jokes that Jason wishes she would use the recipes more often.

Later, Jason and Veronica attended Baker's birthday celebration. Young wouldn't reveal Baker's exact age, choosing only to call it a milestone celebration.

Instinctively, they began gauging each other's moods and emotions.

"Every time I open the door, I can always tell exactly how she's feeling by the look on her face. Sometimes she's not feeling that well and she tries to hide it, but there's no way she can do it.

"The cool thing is that's how her relationship with me is. If I open up the door, she can always tell if I'm having a good day. We're always there leaning on each other. It's so special to have a friend like that."

Young shared this story at a recent fundraising breakfast for Meals on Wheels ( The relationship perfectly illustrates how the organization's 500-plus daily meals affect the community.

As executive director Steve King likes to say, Meals on Wheels nourishes the body, enriches the soul and strengthens the community. And it's looking to do more.

Even though it's operating on a lean budget of $1.3 million, King hopes to launch a pilot program that would provide a second meal for recipients — a simple breakfast. Greater funding would help.

It's meals, but it's also memories. Baker's dog recently passed away, and Young remembers trying to be strong for her the first visit after Lucky's death.

"I tried my best to hold back the tears, and I just couldn't. And she wrapped her arms around me and she said, 'Well now, honey, I knew you loved him just like a regular member of the family.' "

Baker no longer asks Young to sit and join her. When you're family, it's a given.

That's all I'm saying.

Volunteers nourish the body and the spirit 03/12/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 12, 2010 10:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. St. Petersburg police investigating why civilian employees accidentally fired AR-15 semiautomatic rife inside HQ


    ST. PETERSBURG — An internal police investigation is looking into two civilian employees who accidentally fired a round from an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle inside St. Petersburg Police Department headquarters.

    The St. Petersburg Police Department is investigating an incident in which two civilian employees accidentally fired an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle they brought inside police headquarters. Department rules prohibit civilian employees from bringing weapons into police facilities.
  2. A 12-foot pilot whale washes ashore on Siesta Key


    A 12-foot-long beached pilot whale appeared on the shore of Point of Rocks Beach in Siesta Key early Friday morning, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

    The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office responded to a 12-foot whale washing ashore early Friday morning. (Sarasota Sheriff's Office)
  3. Trump signs 'VA accountability' bill, as Gus Bilirakis watches


    WASHINGTON - Rep. Gus Bilirakis was among a group of lawmakers on hand to see President Trump sign a "VA accountability bill that will make it easier to dismiss problem employees.

  4. In this June 18, 2012, file photo President Barack Obama and Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, go to shake hands during their bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. [AP photo]
  5. Gradebook podcast: Charter school fraud, budget woes and more


    School districts across Florida have been grappling with financial concerns they contend lawmakers did not improve with a new state education budget. Reporter Marlene Sokol joins reporter Jeff Solochek to discuss the problems as they're manifest in Hillsborough County, which has local woes beyond anything the state has …

    Hillsborough School Board member April Griffin has been asking pointed questions about the district's budget.