By Brian Biggane
Patty Jones was in her 20s when her father suffered an aneurysm at the age of 44 and went on disability.
“He was in rehab for two years, but luckily he had myself and other family, and we banded together to take care of him and pay his bills,” said Jones, who lives in coastal Delray Beach. “So I totally understand how someone gets in a position where they wind up living paycheck to paycheck because of a health issue.”
Three years ago, a friend invited Jones, 49, to join the board of the Palm Beach County Food Bank’s Empty Bowls program when it came to Delray Beach. She accepted and will serve as chairwoman when the program hosts a fundraiser at Old School Square from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 2.
“Realizing that one in six people in our community, a lot of whom are children and senior citizens, can’t afford meals, that really hits home to me,” she said. “It’s an event that brings awareness of the hunger in our community.”
The motto of the event is “Eat simply, so others may simply eat.”
For $25 in advance or $30 at the door, patrons get a picnic lunch of their choice of soup (more than 35 local restaurants will donate), bread and a cookie (donated by Old School Bakery) and water. Each customer takes a pottery bowl home as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the community. Additional bowls can be purchased.
Also available for purchase are painted pottery bowls that were created and donated by the local schools, and soup-to-go will also be for sale. Attendees will be able to support the restaurants by voting for the best soup.
All proceeds go to the PBC Food Bank.
Q: Where did you grow up and go to school? How do you think that has influenced you?
A: I grew up in Wyoming, Mich., where I attended the Godwin Heights school system all the way through high school. Wyoming was a suburb of Grand Rapids; it was a small hometown, and we played in the streets until dark and knew all the neighbors within a three-block radius. We were really raised “by the village.” I learned early how to be independent and responsible from my family and my surroundings. When I moved to Florida in 1987, I attended Palm Beach Community College while I worked.
Q: What professions have you worked in? What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
A: I worked for the same company for 16 years. The company started as Circle K, was bought by several gas companies and was Conoco Phillips when I left. I started as a clerk and worked my way up, being promoted into the office and was administrative assistant to most of the departments: HR, marketing and operations. I learned how to adapt and accept change through the many restructures.
Q: What advice do you have for a young person seeking a career today?
A: College is a must in today’s world, but take your time to find your passion.
Q: How did you choose to make your home in Delray Beach?
A: We lived on Hypoluxo Island for years, but we wanted to make it back to Delray Beach — my husband, Rod, grew up on Lake Ida — to be closer to the kids’ elementary school. We found the perfect location in the Seagate area and have stayed.
Q: What is your favorite part about living in coastal Delray Beach?
A: I love the feeling of Delray Beach. It has everything you need but still has the hometown feel. You can hop on the boat just about every day of the year. We have access to the beach, plenty of restaurants and shops. Who doesn’t love to drive a golf cart around town!
Q: What book are you reading now?
A: I just finished The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye, by David Lagercrantz.
Q: What music do you listen to when you need inspiration? When you want to relax?
A: I like to listen to everything, from the oldies to alternative music. I enjoy listening to music and going to concerts. My favorite band at the moment is Maroon 5, which inspires me. To relax, I listen to Jewel.
Q: Do you have a favorite quote that inspires your decisions?
A: One is from Stephen King: “Get busy living or get busy dying.” I’m always busy and over committing myself, but I enjoy that. I’m lucky enough to go out and do things that I love. Another one is, “Motivation comes from work, and working on things we care about,” from Sheryl Sandberg. My motivation comes from things I love and that I care about. That inspires me.
Q: Have you had mentors in your life? Individuals who have inspired your life decisions?
A: My former boss, Alex Brethauer, was a big influence on me. He taught me that hard work does pay off and if you make a mistake, always be the first to admit it.
Q: If your life story were made into a movie, who would play you?
A: Michelle Pfeiffer. That comes from my sister, but she made the point that I’m quiet and I’m motivated. She also mentioned Jodie Foster; I don’t look like her, but I guess I’m independent and quiet and tough. But I’d say Michelle Pfeiffer is the best one.
If you go
What: Empty Bowls Delray Beach, benefiting the Palm Beach County Food Bank
When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 2.
Where: Old School Square
Cost: $25 in advance, $30 at door
Info: 670-2518, oldschoolsquare.org/events/empty-bowls/