7960352484?profile=original

Cici Garcia of Boca Helping Hands leaves food
with a client of the agency.
Photo by Jerry Lower


 

Stories by Mary Jane Fine

 

C.R.O.S. MINISTRIES

Doris Mingione is in departure mode. She’s a widow, moving to Colorado to be near her son, so today is her all-but-final day to deliver hot meals to some of West Delray’s homebound elderly and disabled. The typed route — names, addresses, number of portions for each of 17 homes — is taped to the dashboard of her tan Toyota Avalon. The list includes notes about each recipient (“Caution! Dog! Ring Bell!”; “Elderly — very frail. Slow to answer door”); as an 11-year volunteer for C.R.O.S. Ministries’ Caring Kitchen, Mingione knows these details, and more. The notes are really for her soon-to-be replacements: St. Vincent de Paul seminarians Martin Nguyen, 22, and Jonathan Richardson, 23.

On a recent October morning, she eases away from the building on NW 8th Avenue, having packed 27 takeout boxes — baked fish, lentils and rice, beets, applesauce, plus packaged rolls, peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, several pies and cookie-filled containers — in the backseat and trunk of her car. 

First stop: an elderly blind man. “He lives alone with the help of his neighbors,” Mingione says, pulling into the driveway of his modest home. Sitting on a lawn chair, just outside his door, the man shakes hands with the two young seminarians as Mingione explains, “We’re just gonna put the food in the refrigerator.” The man smiles and thanks her. “OK,” he says, a Caribbean lilt to his voice. “You got one more week, huh? I’m gonna miss you.”

When The Caring Kitchen began, in 1993, serving hot meals to the homeless, low-income and seniors, its homebound clients numbered five. That figure fluctuates now, between 50 and 60. Volunteers deliver meals on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The Kitchen serves sit-down breakfast and lunch five days a week, dinner four days — a total of 7,200 meals a month, says program director April Hazamy. 

The economy is a challenge. “People are still donating food, but the amount is definitely less,” she says. “Especially fresh produce and protein: meat and fish.” The food pantry, a part of C.R.O.S. Ministries but separate from The Caring Kitchen, has an even harder time. “We’re struggling but not like they are; they can only give (in bags of groceries) what they have in stock,” Hazamy says, and, with canned-goods donations down by about 25 percent, that stock is diminished. The demand keeps growing.

Doris Mingione’s second stop of the morning is for a single mother of three, a cancer patient undergoing chemo. Mingione plops a bag of ice into a cooler by the front door, then adds four meal boxes. She jots a note on a slip of paper and tapes it to the door, for the woman’s teenagers: “Don’t Forget to Bring Food In.”

It’s not yet noon, with 15 deliveries ahead. Her rounds can take an hour, or three hours, depending on who’s at home and who wants to chat. She will, she says, miss these people: the woman with severe arthritis whose husband has Alzheimer’s, the man who gets kidney dialysis three times a week, the 99-year-old legally blind woman who still beats her friends at poker. Mingione will miss them all, but Martin and Jonathan will take on the route. She, and they, will hope that food donations continue, to make their work possible.

Ministries

141 SW 12th Ave., 

Delray Beach

271-1566

www.crosministries.org

Needs: Check their Web site for specific needs. Tax-deductible donations (cash, check or credit card) may be given one time, periodically or annually


 

 

COMMUNITY CARING CENTER
OF BOYNTON BEACH

Fourteen years ago, when Sherry Johnson joined the CCC of Boynton Beach, part-time, she began questioning the way tummies were being filled. “When you’re serving a community where people have a lot of high blood pressure, and you’re handing out cans [of food] filled with nothing but sodium,” thought Johnson, now the center’s executive director, “what are you doing but perpetuating the situation?”

Out of that reasoning, in time, the food pantry became the Green Market and twice-weekly deliveries to 130 frail and elderly shut-ins became healthier. Now, every Friday, the center’s Veggie Mobile takes locally grown fruit and vegetables and homemade soup to homebound residents of what the center calls “the Heart of Boynton.” 

An interfaith organization, the center marked its 27th year in October, Johnson says. It does all that it does thanks to seven paid staffers, four non-paid staffers and 65 volunteers. The Veggie Mobile is handled by one staffer, a board vice-president and volunteers, all of whom visit with homebound recipients, check for signs of malnutrition and dehydration and offer healthy meal suggestions. 

But deliveries are only a part of the center’s work: It also produces much of what it provides. In 2009, in partnership with the University of Florida, through the Palm Beach County Extension Office, it initiated an urban farm that grows much of the produce for the Veggie Mobile, the food pantry and a nutrition-education program.

“We use food to teach pre-schoolers and give cooking classes to adults,” Johnson says. “Most of the children [from Girtmans Treasure Chest Early Learning Centre] have no sense of fruits and vegetables, except for corn and grapes and potatoes — finger foods.”

The Green Market farm’s nutrition lessons are colorful ones: Yellow is for grapefruit and squash; green is for broccoli and lettuce; orange is for, well, oranges.

“The children are making healthy snacks, tasting different things, learning colors and learning about calcium and iron, and we introduced the word ‘antioxidants,’” Johnson says. “By the time we got to yellow and spaghetti squash, they just love it, and they’re coming back for seconds.”

The children’s parents learn how to prepare meals using fruits and vegetables, and they get portions of all the produce their children learn about. The Green Market’s new program this year will offer the entire community an affordable package of good-quality produce, meats and fish: 7½ pounds of meat; a 2-pound pork loin; two 6-ounce portions of mahi-mahi; two 6-ounce portions of salmon; 6 ounces of bacon; and a 3½-pound chicken, all for $28. An additional $6, buys a package of salad ingredients and seasonal vegetables.

Without help, Johnson says, “This community can’t afford fruit and vegetables because it’s cheaper to go to McDonald’s and get a $1 sandwich.”

 

COMMUNITY
CARING CENTER
OF BOYNTON BEACH

Fourteen years ago, when Sherry Johnson joined the CCC of Boynton Beach, part-time, she began questioning the way tummies were being filled. “When you’re serving a community where people have a lot of high blood pressure, and you’re handing out cans [of food] filled with nothing but sodium,” thought Johnson, now the center’s executive director, “what are you doing but perpetuating the situation?”

Out of that reasoning, in time, the food pantry became the Green Market and twice-weekly deliveries to 130 frail and elderly shut-ins became healthier. Now, every Friday, the center’s Veggie Mobile takes locally grown fruit and vegetables and homemade soup to homebound residents of what the center calls “the Heart of Boynton.” 

An interfaith organization, the center marked its 27th year in October, Johnson says. It does all that it does thanks to seven paid staffers, four non-paid staffers and 65 volunteers. The Veggie Mobile is handled by one staffer, a board vice-president and volunteers, all of whom visit with homebound recipients, check for signs of malnutrition and dehydration and offer healthy meal suggestions. 

But deliveries are only a part of the center’s work: It also produces much of what it provides. In 2009, in partnership with the University of Florida, through the Palm Beach County Extension Office, it initiated an urban farm that grows much of the produce for the Veggie Mobile, the food pantry and a nutrition-education program.

“We use food to teach pre-schoolers and give cooking classes to adults,” Johnson says. “Most of the children [from Girtmans Treasure Chest Early Learning Centre] have no sense of fruits and vegetables, except for corn and grapes and potatoes — finger foods.”

The Green Market farm’s nutrition lessons are colorful ones: Yellow is for grapefruit and squash; green is for broccoli and lettuce; orange is for, well, oranges.

“The children are making healthy snacks, tasting different things, learning colors and learning about calcium and iron, and we introduced the word ‘antioxidants,’” Johnson says. “By the time we got to yellow and spaghetti squash, they just love it, and they’re coming back for seconds.”

The children’s parents learn how to prepare meals using fruits and vegetables, and they get portions of all the produce their children learn about. The Green Market’s new program this year will offer the entire community an affordable package of good-quality produce, meats and fish: 7½ pounds of meat; a 2-pound pork loin; two 6-ounce portions of mahi-mahi; two 6-ounce portions of salmon; 6 ounces of bacon; and a 3½-pound chicken, all for $28. An additional $6, buys a package of salad ingredients and seasonal vegetables.

Without help, Johnson says, “This community can’t afford fruit and vegetables because it’s cheaper to go to McDonald’s and get a $1 sandwich.”

Community Caring Center of Boynton Beach

145 N.E. 4th Ave., Boynton Beach

364-9501

Needs: Monetary donations


 

 

BOCA HELPING HANDS

Only a year ago, the food pantry at Boca Helping Hands distributed 500 bags of groceries each month to those in need. This year, they hand out 2,000 bags a month. Only a year ago, the soup kitchen served 2,200 lunches of, say, pot roast or turkey or stew each month. This year, that number exceeds 3,900 meals a month. Twice a week, hard times or not, groceries are delivered to the homebound in 21 homes.

“Grocery bags on steroids,” is what executive director Jim Gavrilos calls them. “We’re trying to get permits to deliver, Monday through Friday, the hot meal we serve Monday through Saturday in the kitchen.” He hopes the permits are only about a month away now.

As for the increased pantry distributions, the additional soup-kitchen servings, he says, “Clearly, it’s because of the economic downturn. What we’re seeing is middle-class people, people who’ve been out of work for six months, nine months, a year. At a certain point, it becomes a matter of survival.”

Program director Sally Wells thinks of the woman with two teenage daughters who lost their home to foreclosure after her ex-husband lost his job and, with it, his ability to pay child-support and alimony. The woman had a job for a while but, when it ended, what money she’d saved soon ran out. 

“All their stuff was in storage, and they needed a week’s worth of shelter while she looked for work again,” says Wells, who is married to Gavrilos. “It’s hard for people to come in here and face the fact that they need help.” Boca Helping Hands gave them a temporary home at a motel on Federal Highway.

The hands that do the helping here belong to five staffers and 300 volunteers: They oversee the soup kitchen; the food pantry; the groceries delivered to the homebound; the “Blessings in a Backpack” program that sends home a weekend’s worth of meals and snacks for the 1,200 grade school children eligible for the federal free-lunch program; the classes on budgeting and job-seeking; the resource center that offers aid to people facing eviction or utility cancellation or in need of prescription medication.

The group’s mission — once aimed primarily at the government-subsidized housing areas of Pearl City and Dixie Manor in eastern Boca — has expanded, recently, into the city’s western reaches. “We just began distributing (grocery bags) at Boca Glades Baptist Church,” says Wells. “People have transportation problems or no money for gas. A hundred bags a week. And it’s growing.” 

School-based food drives, individuals, corporations, entities as diverse as Boca Raton Regional Hospital and Whole Foods, donate to Boca Helping Hands, which began in 1998. The group was the inspiration of a half-dozen or so people, both Christians and Jews, says Gavrilos, an ex-priest. 

“We do what we can,” says Wells. “As soon as food comes into our warehouse, it goes out. We definitely need donations.”

Boca Helping Hands

1500 NW First Court, Boca Raton

417-00913

www.bocahelpinghands.org

Needs: Check the website. ($25 pays for up to 10 hot meals served in the Food Center; $100 will supply seven families with a bag of groceries; $1,000 will help feed 20 homebound clients for one month or pay rent for one family).


 

 


Help us help others

The Coastal Star and Microgiving.com have joined forces to provide an online means for monetary donations to the featured non-profit organizations providing home delivery of food to the elderly and needy in our community.  Both of our locally owned and operated companies are committed to giving back to our communities. Our hope is you will join us, by making an online donation at:

Boca Helping Hands: www.microgiving.com/profile/jgavrilos Community  Caring Center: www.microgiving.com/profile/sherryccc

C.R.O.S. Ministries: www.microgiving.com/profile/caringkitchen1

 

 

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of The Coastal Star to add comments!

Join The Coastal Star

Activity Feed

Pippi posted an event
Jun 30
Pippi posted an event
Jun 30
Pippi posted an event
Jun 30
Pippi posted an event
Jun 30
Pippi posted an event
Jun 30
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jun 29
Mary Kate Leming posted a blog post
Jun 29
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in GULF STREAM
Jun 29
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jun 29
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jun 29
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in MANALAPAN
Jun 29
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion
Jun 29
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BOCA RATON
Jun 29
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jun 29
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jun 29
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jun 29
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in ACROSS THE BRIDGE
Jun 29
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion
Jun 29
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in ACROSS THE BRIDGE
Jun 29
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jun 29
More…