Story and Photos by Chuck Seaver
Lake Minneola High School’s Shades of Green Jazz Band took center stage to set the festive mood at The Neighborhood Center’s 50th Anniversary celebration and Garden Party. The combined celebration and fundraising event was held at the Mission Inn Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills on Saturday, October 8th.
The Master of Ceremony, Jim Payne of WESH-2 News, outlined the need and capabilities of The Neighborhood Center’s (TNC) mission of providing a pathway to develop, empower and educate those with food insecurities. Trish Kry, TNC’s Executive Director, spoke of a recent day in which her staff and volunteers served 140 families in just three hours. An unfortunate trend that is growing in the South Lake Community. “The need is real, and the need is growing,” says Kry who has seen many changes during her six years at the helm of TNC.
Stephanie Carter, a TNC volunteer spoke of how she was introduced to the services provided by the center and became a client when her family encountered unexpected hardships that led to food insecurities. She was pleased to learn that TNC not only provided food but provided nutritional food that included fresh fruits and vegetables. Carter has since recovered from the financial hardships and now not only supports the center with donations but also volunteers her time to help those that are walking the path that she once traveled.
The highlight of the evening was the recognition of the six women who had an idea in 1972. An idea to assist those who needed help in the community but had nowhere to turn. Six members of Clermont’s First United Methodist Church; Dele Smythe, Ruth Delano, Virginia Dodge, Esther Henry, Hazel Johnson, and Bess Jones came together and began the foundation for what would eventually become Faith Neighborhood Center.
Food distribution began from a small, private structure owned by Asbury Floyd on Bloxam Avenue near East Desoto Street in Clermont. Floyd donated the space free of charge. The voluntary giving of help continued to grow and eventually, the services were moved to the current location of 14727 Timber Village Road, Groveland. After many years at the current location, TNC has again found itself in a position that requires a larger facility. Plans are currently underway to construct a new facility on Beverly Road in Groveland and you can help make that vision come true. Visit fnclake.org to see the many ways that you can support the vital needs of The Neighborhood Center.