When Todd Patrick learned there was a homeless teenager living behind a supermarket about to face freezing cold temperatures, he knew he had to do something about it.
Patrick, the director of sales at Hampton Inn & Suites in Wesley Chapel, pulled out his personal credit card and booked the teen a room in his hotel. And that moved earned him one of the top individual awards an employee of the national hotel chain can receive: a Spirit of Hampton Award.
“I love the fact that to you, people just don’t go unnoticed,” Scott Schrank, a vice president with the Hampton chain, told Patrick last week on a conference call. “This had nothing to do with hospitality, and that’s what I love about examples like this. You believe you were born to care, and you look for opportunities to give, and that’s what you did.”
While Patrick is keeping his eye out for people in need, Lisa Bekiaris wants to make sure pets don’t get overlooked.
A few short years ago, Bekiaris learned how many pets go hungry — or even worse, how many owners will go hungry just to make sure their pets eat — and decide to do something about it. She started Raffle Rescue where people don’t just donate cash, they enter a chance to win prizes. And all the proceeds make sure pets in disadvantaged families get the food they need.
“I have had people tell me, ‘I didn’t eat today because I had to buy dog food,'” Bekiaris told reporter Michael Hinman. “We as humans can go out and ask for help, but our animals solely rely on us as a pet parent, and too often we’ll make sacrifices for ourselves to keep them fed.”
Both Patrick and Bekiaris are prime examples of people who give back to the community, but reporter B.C. Manion helps remember one woman who helped start the very charity fundraising that has become a tradition in Lutz.
Alice Joan “Jo” Van Bebber was the original Lutz Guv’na, and spent decades of her life serving the community. She died March 5.
“To me, we lost a truly great lady,” said longtime friend Marilyn Wannamaker. Not only was Van Bebber a community activist, she was a vital member of the GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club, and was quite involved at the First United Methodist Church of Lutz.
All of these stories and more are in this week’s The Laker/Lutz News, available in newsstands throughout east and central Pasco County as well as northern Hillsborough County. Find out what has your community talking this week by getting your local news straight from the only source you need.
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