Darden Restaurants is helping 10 Feeding America food banks that serve communities of color, by providing refrigerated trucks. The food bank receiving the donation in the Tampa Bay region is Feeding Tampa Bay, according to the news release. The refrigerated trucks are 26 feet long and are capable of transporting 12,000 pounds of food on each trip, the release says. Each food bank also is receiving $26,000 to use for food and other needs. The only other food bank in Florida receiving a refrigerated truck is Feeding Northeast Florida, which is in Jacksonville.
Feeding Tampa Bay
Amid nationwide protests and movements for widespread police reform, Pasco County is fortunate to receive considerable community support, said Pasco Sheriff District 2 Cpt. Joseph Irizarry during a breakfast meeting with the East Pasco Networking Group.
Protesters have been persistent, and sometimes violent, in calls for reform in the wake of multiple officer-involved shootings across U.S. cities, but Pasco deputies have felt appreciated by the “support that’s been pouring out of the community,” said Irizarry said, whose patrol division runs east of U. S. Highway 41 north to the Hernando County line, south to the Hillsborough County line, and east to Polk and Sumter counties.
“You know, you can’t go anywhere in Pasco County pretty much without getting ‘thank yous’ and someone offering to pay for my meal or to buy me a cup of coffee — so it’s greatly appreciated,” he told the group, gathered for the Aug. 25 breakfast meeting at the IHOP in Dade City. “Unfortunately, many other law enforcement agencies aren’t experiencing the same support that we experience here in Pasco County.”
The district 2 captain said the reelection of Sheriff Chris Nocco has helped the department stay focused on county issues. No one stepped forward to challenge the sheriff, in his bid for reelection.
Touching on the county’s more pressing issues, Irizarry said the agency has placed a significant emphasis on the issues of homelessness and mental health.
He applauded Nocco’s progressive approach in addressing community issues. For instance, the sheriff used grant money to form the Behavioral Health Intervention Team (BHIT) last year.
The unit, made up of 12 detectives, partners with local hospitals and mental health facilities to conduct frequent visitations and welfare checks. It also helps expedite referrals for behavioral health resources and criminal justice diversion programs for the county’s Baker Act repeats.
For example, an individual struggling with addiction may be referred to outpatient substance abuse treatment. Or, someone struggling financially might be referred to Pasco County’s Human Services department and the county’s homeless coalition.
Before the proactive program began, Irizarry said, the sheriff’s office would be called to a scene and make initial contact with someone who was in the midst of a mental health crisis — and that individual might be arrested or submitted for an involuntary mental health evaluation (Baker Act).
From there, it was left to others to address the problems.
But, the law enforcement agency discovered that many struggling people end up going back to square one — spiraling into their various issues, without knowing how or where to turn for help, he said.
“The sheriff kind of took the reins, ‘Hey, we’re going to create a unit, we’re going to be that ‘somebody else,’ and we’re going to follow up,” said Irizarry, who’s held various roles in his 20 years with the law enforcement agency, including patrol deputy, K-9 deputy, and vice and narcotics detective.
Meanwhile, the high-level officer noted that less than 20% of service calls are related to criminal complaints, so the majority of calls are related to non-criminal matters such as mental health and substance abuse problems, among others.
“A lot of our time is spent doing things other than arresting people and taking people to jail,” Irizarry said. “It’s trying to get people help, and use resources in the community or in the area.”
That seems more important than ever, as many individuals and families have been struggling through layoffs and furloughs due to COVID-19.
Recently, the sheriff’s office has been partnering with Feeding Tampa Bay to deliver hundreds of meals to families at the Pasco County Fairgrounds.
It’s about making the county “a better place for everybody to live,” the captain said.
“In this day and age with the pandemic, a lot of people are laid off, so they don’t have the money to pay the bills or pay the rent or pay for food…so there’s a lot of things that the sheriff’s office does to help the community.”
Published September 02, 2020
What Donna Moyer misses most is the children filing into the cafeteria, laughing, playing and sitting down to enjoy lunch.
“We have a big party,” said Moyer, past Exalted Ruler at the Elks Lodge 2731, in Zephyrhills. “It’s a big deal. This year with all this extra nonsense, we can’t.”
COVID-19 upended the typical Feed the Kids Program, a free summer lunch and literacy program.
This year, Moyer, and 10 to 15 volunteers, wave to children in the backseat of cars as their parents pull into a drive-thru food pantry organized at the lodge, at 6851 Wire Road.
Five days a week from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the volunteers hand out about 100 free lunches prepared daily at Zephyrhills’ restaurant, Tubby’s Q and Smokehouse.
The restaurant is the first participant in Operation Feed Pasco, a collaboration between the Pasco County Commission, United Way of Pasco County, Thomas Promise Foundation and the Elks Lodge.
The initiative has a dual purpose: To bolster area food pantries and help restaurants that took a financial loss from the COVID-19 shutdown.
A nonprofit, Harper Valley Son’s Food Pantry based in Wesley Chapel, is independently providing boxes of vegetables, pre-cooked meat, fruit and milk to parents who come to the Elks Lodge.
On Wednesdays, the Elks Lodge also gives out bags filled with craft activities and books to boost reading skills.
On Fridays, Thomas Promise provides meals to carry families through the weekend.
Thomas Promise’s mission is to feed hungry children in Pasco. It typically serves 1,600 students in more than 25 schools, but this year the need is greater because of COVID-19.
The nonprofit is a longtime supporter of the Elks Lodge, so coming together for Operation Feeding Pasco was a natural fit.
“I immediately thought of Elks Lodge because that’s exactly what we do,” said Joe Simmons, executive director of Thomas Promise.
When Moyer realized the Elks Lodge members had to reinvent an on-site program now in its sixth year, she stayed up nights wondering if they could pull it off.
But, Moyer said, “We just kind of got it all together.”
The Elks Lodge is one of many nonprofits and food banks that is helping families that are struggling to pay bills, put food on the table and stay safe during the pandemic.
Even as businesses begin to reopen in Florida, and more people are venturing out to shops and restaurants — a great need for help continues.
Before COVID-19, Feeding Tampa Bay distributed food in its 10-county region to about 600,000 “food insecure” individuals. Since the shutdown, that number has more than doubled, to about 1.3 million.
“The need is continuing to climb,” said Shannon Hannon Oliviero, external affairs officer for Feeding Tampa Bay.
The nonprofit began opening drive-thru food banks, known as “mega-pantries,” in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Polk and Pasco counties.
One mega-pantry now operates at Pasco High School in Dade City.
Volunteers with Make a Difference, a nonprofit in Dade City, distribute food supplied by Feeding Tampa Bay every Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at 36850 State Road 52 in Dade City.
Oliviero said an early survey completed after the shutdown revealed about 70% of those coming to food banks were doing so for the first time in their lives.
Many had either lost their jobs or are on furlough, she said.
She said the help will continue.
“We’re going to be here for as long as needed. That’s what we’re here for,” Oliviero said.
About 700 food bags were given away at the first drive-thru at Pasco High, said Larry Guilford, founder of Make a Difference.
“One woman cried while driving through,” he said. “That’s when we know we’re doing the right thing. That’s telling us it’s needed.”
The same community spirit abounds at the Elks Lodge. Volunteers arrive around 7:30 a.m. Duties include bagging the days’ meals, snacks and crafts. On some days they also prepare frozen meals, such as pancakes and sausage, meat subs and spaghetti. Those are kept in the freezers for use as needed, said Moyer.
On average about 100 meals are distributed for the summer program, but on one recent day about 150 meals were handed out, she said.
“Thank you,” is the phrase of the day, as parents and children accept the food bags.
“It’s an amazing resource,” said Kimberly Mahon, who drove through with her children, ages 3 and 7.
Brad Odell, a Wesley Chapel High School teacher, drove through with his family — but also took home food packages for neighbors unable to leave their home.
“It helps me,” he said, adding, “but I have neighbors that are elderly, and a woman with five children. I try to help out as many people as possible. It makes me feel good.”
Area food banks/pantries
Here is a partial list of food banks operating in Pasco. (Please call ahead to be sure the pantry is open and to find out its hours of operation):
Food Pantry at Emmanuel Ministries
12639 Candlewood Drive, Dade City
For information on hours, call (813) 713-0305.
37240 Lock St., Dade City
Provides fresh fruit, meats, dairy and more
For information, call (352) 567-1432.
Neighborhood Care Center
5140 Sixth St., Zephyrhills
This nonregional, nonprofit offers free groceries and hot meals
For information, call (813) 780-6822.
Life Community Center
6542 Applewood St., Wesley Chapel
For information, call (813) 994-0685.
Christian Social Services
5514 Land O’ Lakes Blvd., Land O’ Lakes
For information, call (813) 995-0088.
Suncoast Harvest Food Bank
5829 Ehren Cutoff Road, Land O’ Lakes
Open third Saturday of the month
For information, call (813) 929-0200.
St. Vincent De Paul
Serves various locations in Pasco
For information, call the district office at (727) 868-8160.
Father and Son Love Ministries
21418 Carson Drive, Land O’ Lakes
Operates a food pantry on Tuesdays, from noon to 2 p.m.; Fridays, from noon to 3 p.m.; and on Sundays, starting at 12:30 p.m.
For information, call (813) 383-8410.
Helping Hands, a food pantry at Atonement Lutheran Church
29617 State Road 54, Wesley Chapel
Call (813) 756-8866 to find out when it is open.
Daystar Hope Center
15512 U.S. 301, Dade City
Call (352) 523-0844 to find out when it is open.
Published June 17, 2020
Pick up paper unemployment forms
Both Hillsborough and Pasco counties are handing out paper unemployment forms at specific libraries.
The location near The Laker/Lutz News coverage area is at Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library, 2902 W. Bearss Ave. The library’s drive-thru will be open seven days a week, from 9:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Once completed, residents also can drop off the forms at either drive-through, and library staff will mail the documents for them.
Printed unemployment forms will be available just outside the entrance to these libraries, in The Laker/Lutz News coverage area:
- Land O’ Lakes Library, 2818 Collier Parkway, in Land O’ Lakes
- Hugh Embry Library, 14215 Fourth St., in Dade City
If you’re unable to visit a library in person and would like to request a blank application form by mail, please contact the library at "> or through the “Ask A Librarian” feature at PascoLibraries.org.
Once completed, residents can mail the form to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
For more information about Pasco County Libraries, including the library catalog, E-content, programs, events and links to all Pasco County Library branches, visit PascoLibraries.org.
Hillsborough County emergency help
As the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) fallout continues, Hillsborough County officials are reminding residents about assistance available to help people meet their food needs.
Here is a look at some programs:
- Hillsborough residents age 60 and older can apply for food assistance through Hillsborough County Aging services. There is no income requirement to participate in the federally funded program. To find out more, call (813) 2727-5250.
- Feeding Tampa Bay is offering drive-thru distribution of free, pre-packaged groceries to Hillsborough County residents in need. Distribution is on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., at Hillsborough Community College’s Dale Mabry campus, 4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd., in Tampa. Check Feeding Tampa Bay’s website before the events, to be sure there have been no changes. To find out about other food assistance programs and information, visit FeedingTampaBay.org, or call (813) 254-1190.
- Tampa YMCA Veggie Van is distributing free pre-packaged bags of produce in several neighborhoods in Hillsborough County. No ID, paperwork or pre-screening is required to receive the food. Learn more, visit Tampa Veggie Van on Facebook.
- SNAP recipients across the state starting April 21 will be able to use EBT cards to make eligible food purchases from Walmart and Amazon online.
Pasco Planning and development open online
Pasco County’s planning and development department is only accepting electronic submittals via its online portals. It is not accepting hard copy application packages, hard copy re-submittals or checks.
All project information must be uploaded in Accela and all payments must be made online via e-check ($1.99 fee) or credit card (2.65% fee) through the Accela Citizen Access (ACA) portal.
Tips for reducing stress
Here are some suggestions from the National Alliance on Mental Illness to help reduce potential stress and anxiety, as the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic disrupts our daily lives.
Manage how you consume information
Equip yourself with information from credible, reputable sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). See “Basic information” section for more links.
Be selective about how you consume news. It’s generally a good idea to stay engaged and informed. Having some limits on your news consumption can help:
- Watching or listening to the same news constantly can increase stress. Reading can be an easier medium to control how much and what kind of information you’re absorbing.
- Set limits on when and for how long you consume news and information, including through social media. It may help you to choose a couple of 15-minute blocks each day when you will check news/social media and limit your news consumption to that time.
- False information spreads very easily on social media and can have serious consequences for individual and public health. Always verify sources and make sure they are reputable, especially before sharing anything.
Follow healthy daily routines as much as possible
Your daily habits and routines can help you feel more in control of your own well-being.
Even simple actions can make a difference:
- Make your bed
- Get dressed
- Connect with loved ones
- Move your body
- Make time for breaks
- If possible, take regular short breaks during work or between shifts. During these breaks, go outside and engage in physical activity if you can.
- Practice good hygiene, especially by cleaning your hands
- Get enough regular sleep, it is critical for your immune system
- Eat nutritious food as much as possible, especially fruits and vegetables
Published April 22, 2020
These are not normal times and the community is responding to surging needs in light of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Rotary Club of Wesley Chapel and Firefighters Charities of Pasco joined together to purchase $10,000 of nonperishable food items, as well as toilet paper, tissues and paper towels — to help Pasco County seniors.
The two groups collaborated with Pasco County Senior Services’ center based in Land O’ Lakes, to ensure seniors in the Central Pasco community are helped during this unique time in the history of the United States.
The Land O’ Lakes senior center serves 84 seniors, Monday through Friday.
The food drive organizers also partnered with a local food pantry operated in the Angus Valley community of Wesley Chapel, by Life Church. The pantry is located at Life Community Center.
The donated food bags include pasta, yellow rice, black beans, fruit cups, applesauce, tomato sauce, cereal, oatmeal, tuna, fruit snacks, animal crackers, white kidney beans, chewy bars and cookies.
The pantry items, which are in large bulk, include tuna, pasta, animal crackers, fruit cups, ravioli, beans, cereal and pasta sauce.
Goodwill Industries Suncoast Inc., also is stepping forward to help collect food during this record time of unemployment. They are collecting food for Feeding Tampa Bay’s community food outreach program.
All Goodwill-Suncoast retail stores in Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties will be collection points for nonperishable food donations.
Items most needed include canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter and canned chicken.
Those wishing to help are asked to leave donated items in carts outside of the stores.
The food drive is being conducted April 15 through April 30. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m., on Sunday. For store locations, visit Goodwill-suncoast.org/store-locations/.
While some groups are focusing on food needs, volunteers from the GFWC Wesley Chapel Woman’s Club are making masks for first responders.
Numerous members are involved with picking up and dropping off supplies they can find, to allow the mask production to continue.
Meanwhile, employees of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office are making a point to purchase items at local businesses to help them weather the financial blow the pandemic has caused, and Sheriff Chris Nocco and members of his team are featured in department videos, offering suggestions intended to help people through the crisis.
“We don’t know how long this will last. I know people are frustrated being at home. They’re frustrated by being on the couch, and especially for parents having those little ones constantly running around.
“But, please continue to follow the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines. Stay at home. Keep social distancing. If you’re sick, stay inside and quarantine yourself,” Nocco said. “We have to do this to flatten the curve because it’s not going to be over next week. It’s an extended period of time.
Nocco also informed the public that they will be seeing deputies wearing masks.
“They have the option, like you, to follow the CDC guidelines. Please understand, it doesn’t mean they have symptoms of COVID-19, nor the person they are interacting with has symptoms of COVID-19.
“They’re just taking precautions like they want to, like you can, following the CDC guidelines.
The sheriff also encouraged parents to keep a close eye on the social media their children are using.
“Be nosy. Get involved,” he urged parents. “Unfortunately, we’ve found incidents where young girls, under age, were meeting up with adult males. So, please get on those social media sites. Know what they are doing.”
The sheriff’s office also has videos featuring department employees talking about the issues of maintaining mental health and de-escalating stressful situations during these difficult times.
To find out more, visit the department’s Facebook Page and click on the videos tab.
Local sources of help include:
Feeding Tampa Bay
Visit the website to find a pantry: FeedingTampaBay.org/find-a-pantry/
Life Community Center, 6542 Applewood Drive, Wesley Chapel
Services available include:
- Laundry and showers for the homeless by appointment. Call (813) 994-0685.
- Drive-thru hot meal Tuesday, from noon to 1 p.m.
- Limited access to printing and faxing as needed. Call (813) 994-0685.
- Food ministry/pantry drive-thru, Friday from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Emergency food boxes on case-by-case basis. Call (813) 994-0685.
- Free program that provides telephone reassurance to seniors
- If you enjoy, value and love our seniors, if you love listening to their great stories or heartfelt advice, if you love engaging in conversation and knowing that you are bringing happiness to a senior simply by listening and caring on the phone – this may be just the volunteer opportunity you’ve been seeking.
- Go to TelePalNow.org to apply to be a TelePal (A person who makes a phone call) or a TeleClient (A person who receives a call).
- Training, a background check and monthly crosschecks are required for all participants.
- Volunteers must be at least 18 for this program, which operates in Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
Want to help?
A new effort has started in Pasco County that’s part of a national initiative.
The Pasco chapter of the Frontline Appreciation Group, FLAG2020Pasco, is raising money to hire local restaurants to prepare meals for frontline employees working in intensive care units in hospitals.
“You know it brings a smile to our frontline workers and it helps our local restaurants in these challenging times,” said Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, who is calling attention to the effort.
To find out more, check the Facebook Group, FLAG2020Pasco.
Published April 15, 2020
Furniture retailer Ashley HomeStore announced in a news release that it is donating 250,000 meals to Feeding Tampa Bay, part of the national Feeding America network, during the current crisis.
The donation aims to help Feeding Tampa Bay’s programs and ensure neighbors in need have required food and resources.
Ashley’s contribution not only will help cover people that the Feeding programs already serve daily, but it will help others at risk, too, including:
- Children who are out of school and will have no access to school meals or after-school meals
- High-risk seniors and others who cannot reach food
- Families experiencing higher expenses and lower wages who would not normally need their services
Due to recent events, the size and scope of these populations are now significant and Feeding Tampa Bay’s response reflects that growing reality.
“We are in the midst of a time when more people than ever before are facing challenges in getting food and supplies they need,” said Thomas Mantz, president and CEO of Feeding Tampa Bay.
“Ashley HomeStore is standing with Feeding Tampa Bay, giving us the ability to direct these crucial resources to our neighbors who need them most,” Mantz said.
As COVID-19 continues to impact the Tampa region, Feeding Tampa Bay has seen a 40% increase in need for their services, the release states.
“At this time, there are a lot of needs that must be met both in our communities and around the world,” said Greg Kammer, executive vice president of retail and sales operations, Ashley HomeStore.
Kammer said it’s important “for us to do our part, spread positivity and remind everyone that we are in this together.”
Published April 15, 2020
Prevent the spread
Help prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.
Source: Florida Department of Health
Get lawn and garden advice
Working on the yard? Expert advice for lawn or garden issues is now just a click away thanks to new Virtual Plant Clinics with UF/IFAS Pasco County Cooperative Extension Service. Meet online with a master gardener on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at bit.ly/pascoplantclinic. Master Gardeners can help with pest identification, weed control, spring growing tips and more.
Don’t cause plumbing headaches
If you’re using wipes to clean surfaces in your home and office, be sure not to flush them.
Flushing wipes, even those labeled as “flushable,” can create a costly plumbing mishap in your home later. Visit HCFLGov.net/DontFlush for more information.
Food pickup points
The YMCAs of the Tampa Bay are teaming up with community partners to feed families and fight food insecurity during these unprecedented times. The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA, YMCA of the Suncoast and YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg are working with Feeding Tampa Bay, local school districts and other organizations to help provide fresh food to families across Greater Tampa Bay.
FEEDING TAMPA BAY MOBILE PANTRY
Anyone can receive a free pre-packaged box of groceries in a drive-thru type model.
Mondays, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the James P. Gills Family YMCA, 8411 Photonics Drive, Trinity.
PASCO COUNTY SCHOOLS
School buses deliver free bags of food, which include breakfast and lunch for five days for each student.
East Pasco Family YMCA, 37301 Chapel Hill Loop, Zephyrhills
Tuesdays, 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
For additional food pickup locations and information, visit the Pasco County Schools website (Pasco.k12.fl.us) and the Hillsborough County Schools website (SDHC.k12.fl.us).
Con artists are trying to take advantage of the uncertainty and anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Better Business Bureau urges you to protect yourself from these common scams:
- Phony cures and fake masks: The BBB Scam Tracker has received numerous reports of people receiving emails and messages claiming that, for a price, they can buy products the government is supposedly keeping secret – ways to prevent or cure coronavirus. Medical experts are working hard to find a coronavirus vaccine, but none currently exists.
- Economic impact payment (Stimulus Check) scams
As soon as stimulus packages were announced and approved, scammers quickly got to work sending out fake economic impact checks and asking consumers to pay fees to get their money earlier than what the IRS has promised. These claims are false and open consumers to the risk of identity theft and outright theft of the funds in their bank account.
- Phishing Scams
As more people work from home, con artists have stepped up phishing scams. They may claim to be from an official department of the employer to offer IT support or claim the company issued computer has a virus. They may use scare tactics, stating the computer will crash if you don’t act immediately, all in an attempt to gain access to your computer remotely, or to your personal or company’s information.
- Government Impersonation
Another common phishing scam brought on by the coronavirus pandemic is fake emails and text messages claiming the government needs you to take an “online coronavirus test” by clicking a link they provide. No such test currently exists, but if you click on the link, scammers can download malware onto your computer and gain access to your sensitive personal information.
- Employment Scams
Many people are looking for work online in the wake of coronavirus shutdowns. Fraudsters find ways to take advantage of this by posting phony work-from-home jobs promising remote work with good pay and no interview required. These cons often use real company names and can be convincing.
After you are “hired,” the company may charge you upfront for “training.” You may need to provide your personal and banking information to run a credit check or set up direct deposit. You may be “accidentally” overpaid with a fake check, and asked to deposit the check and wire back the difference. Or, you are asked to buy expensive equipment and supplies to work at home.
- Shortage Scams (price gouging)
Supplies such as hand sanitizer, face masks and toilet paper are selling out in stores across the U.S. and Canada. Scammers take advantage of this situation and stockpile items in high demand. Then, they seek out potential clients, online and in person, and sell the products at extremely high prices. Price gouging is illegal and high demands for products can lead to con artists selling products that are used, defective or otherwise mishandled. In some cases, scammers will con people out of their money by accepting payments for products that don’t exist.
This has been an issue with face masks. Masks are sold out in most local stores and major online sellers. Instead, consumers are turning to unfamiliar online shops. Unfortunately, phony sellers abound. These scam online retailers take shoppers’ money – as well as personal information – and never deliver the masks.
As people spend more time at home and outdoors, during the pandemic, these tips from Hillsborough County’s Management Services, may be useful. Following them can help reduce the population of mosquitoes on a property, and reduce the potential for being bit. Here are the pointers:
- Empty water containers at least once per week
- Wear long sleeves, long pants, and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
- Properly apply an approved repellent, such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon-eucalyptus or any other EPA-registered repellent
For more information about mosquito protection and breeding prevention, visit HCFLGov.net/Mosquito.
These websites offer a wealth of information:
Pasco Economic Development Council Inc.: PascoEDC.com
North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce: NorthTampaBayChamber.com
Greater Pasco Chamber of Commerce: GreaterPasco.com
Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce: ZephyrhillsChamber.org
Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce: DadeCityChamber.org
Hillsborough County government: HillsboroughCounty.org
Pasco County government: PascoCountyFl.net
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC.gov
Florida Department of Health: FloridaHealthCovid19.gov
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity: FloridaJobs.org
U.S. Small Business Administration: SBA.gov
Pasco County Schools: Pasco.k12.fl.us
Hillsborough County Schools: SDHC.k12.fl.us
Published April 15, 2020
Members of the Keystone Community Church delivered Easter baskets and food to 26 families on April 1.
The food boxes contained dairy, meat, bread from Publix, fruit, veggies and nonperishable items.
The Easter baskets were made by the church’s women’s group, along with Emma Wasson, a volunteer’s granddaughter.
The church, which is on State Road 54 just west of the U.S. 41 intersection, in Lutz, will continue to distribute to families and individuals in need, as often as possible, according to information provided by Lisa Kamps, of the KCC Second Serving outreach ministry.
The church reaches out to the local community providing food to those in need, according to its website. People the church serves range from single seniors to young families with children. Because the church is a Feeding Tampa Bay agency, it can purchase frozen foods and other items at a low cost. It also collects nonperishable food from our members and friends to round out what it distributes. Also, it also prepares food for the homeless.
Published April 08, 2020
The Circle of Veterans and Families Inc. (COV), in coordination with Paddling for Veterans and in partnership with Feeding Tampa Bay, will provide a mobile food pantry for veterans, community members and children, in honor of Martin Luther King Day.
The pantry will be open on Jan. 18 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., or until supplies are exhausted, at the Lewis Abraham Boys and Girls Club, 38724 Mudcat Grant Blvd., in Dade City.
The event will feature seven pallets to nine pallets of food, averaging 5,000 pounds to 7,000 pounds of a variety of fresh produce, meat, dry goods, and bread and bakery items. This amount of food typically feeds 250 to 300 families.
For those interested in COV, this 501c3 charitable organization is located at The Circle of Veterans Ranch and Rehabilitation Center, a 10-acre ranch in Dade City/Lacoochee, in Pasco County.
The ranch creates a transition space for education, relaxing, rejuvenating, and most of all connecting. It provides transitional housing for eight male veterans at a time, but its doors are open to other veterans to come and socialize at any time.
It provides alternative therapies, too, including equine and animal therapy, that do not require the veteran to relive a traumatic experience.
Published January 15, 2020
At Wiregrass Ranch High School, Carly Norman was a senior team captain and standout defender on the varsity girls lacrosse team — helping the program to a 14-2 mark during the 2019 season.
She also graduated in the top 10% of her class, with a 4.0-plus GPA.
But, it’s her contributions off the field and outside the classroom that proved to be most rewarding.
Carly was involved in as many as 10 extracurricular activities.
In one of those, she was president of the school’s Key Club, the oldest and largest international student-led service program for high school students.
Through that, she spearheaded volunteer efforts at Feeding Tampa Bay, Bay Chapel Food Pantry, Humane Society of Tampa Bay and Habitat for Humanity, among others.
One definitive moment occurred in 2017, when Carly helped organize a weekend neighborhood cleanup in downtown Tampa, following Hurricane Irma.
The Wiregrass Ranch graduate recalled a local woman came up to her volunteer group and began sobbing. The woman thanked them for picking up trash and debris the devastating tropical storm had left behind.
Moments like that make volunteering all the more worthwhile, for Carly.
“It was just so touching to see how much my little effort, just taking some time off on Saturday morning for a couple hours to pick up trash made her feel so good,” Carly, now a freshman at the University of Central Florida, said.
The young woman’s efforts to serve have not gone unnoticed.
Earlier this year, she received the Congressional Citizen Award from U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis.
The honor was bestowed for Carly’s exemplary volunteerism and community service.
She was Wiregrass Ranch’s first-ever recipient of the honor, which goes annually to select graduating seniors in Bilirakis’ district.
Though she wasn’t seeking recognition, Carly said she was “really touched” to be chosen for the award.
Seeing the value of giving back
Some volunteers who are Carly’s age may view helping others as a necessary chore to obtain needed service hours. But, in high school, Carly began embracing the opportunity to help others who are less fortunate.
The 18-year-old put it like this: “I kind of just grew to love volunteering. It became almost like fun for me. It’s a great way to give back to my community and have fun with my friends while doing it. …If you just take some time to find it fun, it really is amazing.”
Carly said her mother, Kathy Norman, instilled in her the value of volunteering.
“When I grew up, my mom always taught me, ‘You give back to others. You help others,’” Carly said.
She began at an early age by writing personalized holiday cards to military members.
It blossomed from there.
“When I did get older and had more opportunities to help, I really did jump at that,” Carly said.
Since then, she has gone on to become a member of UCF’s Circle K International service club, the college and university counterpart of the Key Club.
That, plus a demanding undergraduate physical therapy program, keeps her plenty busy.
As she watches her daughter juggle multiple responsibilities and still make time to serve others, Kathy Norman is “beyond proud” of her Carly.
“She works really hard and balances a lot. She basically just wants to be a good kid and do her best in everything.
“She’s really grateful for what she has, and to think that other people don’t have the bare basics, it really does pull on her heart a lot,” Kathy Norman said.
In addition to the Congressional Citizen Award, Carly received another distinction her senior year.
She was one of three Wesley Chapel-based high school female athletes to receive the inaugural HERStory Museum scholarship, offered by the new women’s sports virtual museum at AdventHealth Center Ice in Wesley Chapel.
Though she was a dancer and cheerleader growing up, Carly transitioned to lacrosse her sophomore year, as it was becoming a sanctioned Florida high school sport.
She recalls being encouraged by the school’s boys lacrosse team to try out for the girls squad so they would have enough players to field a program. (Because of Title IX, the school must offer both a boys and girls lacrosse program.)
She quickly fell in love with the sport, she said, noting it “made me appreciate how much Title IX does for women’s athletics.”
Carly wound up developing into a team leader, and was known as a scrappy defensive player. She also recovered from a torn ACL her junior year.
“It kind of taught me that I’m tough,” Carly said of the experience. “The truth is, I’m not a star athlete. I’m really just a kid who has a lot of heart.”
Wiregrass Ranch girls varsity head coach Craig Havemann wasn’t surprised to learn of Carly’s scholarship from the local women’s sports museum.
He speaks fondly on Carly’s three seasons in the program, citing her positive attitude and “go-getter” mindset.
“She just had the grit and determination to want to succeed,” Havemann said. “She had that extra little quality that some people have that they just stand out as leaders — always asking questions, always wanting to improve.
“She’s one of those people that always has a smile. I can’t remember her ever being down on herself or just down in general,” he said.
Havemann noted Carly stepped up as an upperclassman to lead offseason workouts, and helped acclimate new players into the program.
She took them under her wing and showed them the ropes, and let them know what the expectations were, he said.
It’s the type of initiative from a player any coach can appreciate.
“As a coach, she makes the job a lot easier,” Havemann said. “She’s one of those people you want to have on your team because she just brings the whole team up.”
He also observed that Carly “was a much better player than she gave herself credit for.”
Published November 27, 2019