Parrish Community Heroes
by Mimi Sheffer During the Coronavirus Pandemic, our lives have been radically altered. In these trying times, it would be easy to lose hope but everywhere in our community, we see people and organizations selflessly helping others. As Mr. Fred Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
Parrish and the surrounding communities are filled with the generous spirit of “helpers.” Look at Parrish United Methodist Church. The church has run a Food Pantry for years, serving individuals and families in need, on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month from 10:30 – 12:00 pm. There are typically between 30-45 individuals who receive food, but with the closure of so many businesses and thousands of local residents out of work, the need has grown exponentially. The Food Pantry is now held as a drive-through, to limit exposure and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. On March 28, there were 95 cars served by the Pantry; on April 4th, there were 105 cars served and on April 11th, there were over 400 vehicles lined up to receive food. Sadly, over 150 of those cars had to be turned away due to the lack of food available.
Many of those served by the Food Pantry have shed tears when they receive their donations and shared their profound gratitude with the volunteers. Parrish United Methodist Church, led by Pastor Chris Schmidt, has always served the needs of our community, allowing the Parrish Civic Association to hold community meetings in its sanctuary and tirelessly working on initiatives like getting a traffic light at the intersection of County Road 675 and US Highway 301 North. Jim and Lori Racky lead the Food Pantry ministry and along with Kathi Decarlo, they have been working diligently to find new sources of food donations to stock the shelves of the pantry. “We have contacted over 20 local farms and…seven of them that are willing to donate product,” said Jim Racky. Additionally, several neighborhoods and local businesses held food drives to support the Food Pantry, led by volunteers Eric McRoberts, Lauren Weinkein, Jill Slater Rogers, Julie Paris McNaughton and Gail Curtis Abbas and Allison Nelson at the Teal Turtle Boutique.
Other helpers include the 28 volunteers who helped serve at the Food Pantry on April 11th, the 40 who agreed to serve on April 25 and Ferraro‘s, who donated pizza kits and allowed the PUMC Food Pantry to store refrigerated goods at their restaurant. The list of farms that have agreed to donate food includes: Hunsaders, Dakin Dairy, Jones Potato Farm, Pennrose Farms, Jessica’s Organic Farmstand, Honeyside Farms, Geraldsons Farms, and Detwilers.
If you would like to donate, the Food Pantry is always in need of canned chicken and tuna, canned pasta, canned fruits and vegetables, boxed pasta in bags of rice, half gallon bottles of juice, toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes. There are many other examples of generous “helpers” in our community, like Andy Ameres and Shake Station, who are treating front line workers to milkshakes. A pay-it-forward movement has led to several others donating anonymously to treat emergency personnel and front line workers to milkshakes from Shake Station. Bayside Church is delivering meals, sanitizer, water, non perishable foods, and more to people in need.
Several women in the Parrish area are making masks for families, surgical caps for medical personnel and even bedding for quarantined fire fighters; these women include Norma Kennedy, Britt Leblanc-Simard, Jennifer King, Alicia Crowley, Dori Sargent, Fay Pendleton, Jeanine Colavecchi, Jessica Ryherd, Charlotte Kepler and Linda McLaughlin Miller. Pittsburgh Mattress Factory has donated 300 masks for local emergency service workers and has committed to 700 more. And Feeding Empty Little Tummies is preparing bags with much needed nutrition for Manatee County children. If YOU would like to serve our community and residents, or know of other unsung heroes right here in Parrish, please contact the Parrish Civic Association via FB Messenger or send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.