Today Feed Thy Neighbor, Inc ("FTN") moved our kitchen operations from a temporary location to St. Monica’s Church. The new address is 7070 Immokalee Rd, Naples, FL 34119, it is a beautiful commercial kitchen. Tomorrow (11/15/2021) will be our first meal from of that location! We signed a lease agreement with St. Monica's Church, but legal contracts aside, the church and its members are excited to support FTN so that we are able to feed those in need.
When we were facing a “cease-and-desist” order with a $100 a day fine, and the threat of being homeless ourselves, a beautiful lady with a huge heart stepped up and offered us her home to prepare 400 meals per day in. We fully expected to be there for a year, after all, we have been trying desperately to find a commercial kitchen since December 2020. However, the dream of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, meals with turkey and stuffing, were in jeopardy due to the limited size of the kitchen there. Then the good people of St. Monica’s heard of our delemma and offered to share their kitchen facilities!
FTN grew out of need from COVID19 by providing prepared meals to people that suddenly found themselves without a job or frightened to wander into the grocery store. Later we discovered a need from people and families living in desperate conditions, so we delivered our meals to them, “in the weeds.” It is not something that other charities provide exactly. So it truly is a beautiful thing to realize that, in addition to peoples’ private donations, other ‘charities’ like St. Monica’s, Meals of Hope, St. Mathews’ House reach out to support FTN. Our mission statements may all vary, but the bottom line is that our common cause is to help those in need.
So on Saturday (11/13/21) a group volunteers all with mini vans and a generous man with a small box truck showed up to move our entire operation. Pots, pans, freezers etc, and oh yes, lots of food supplies was boxed and packed in vans then off to the new kitchen. From start to finish it took 2 hours we were out of there, including mopping the floor. God has blessed us with the greatest volunteers ever and I must mention my full-time team: Rachel Rivers, LaToya Walker and Sandy Quaid who helped me organize and operate this challenging move. The volunteers were excellent, and they worked diligently and got everything moved and set up quickly so that we do not miss one day in providing meals.
I can't tell you what an enormous task this was. We had new restaurant equipment to connect and Vidas worked day and night to get everything done. So tomorrow morning we will start cooking chicken soup that is a meal in itself and a chicken noodle casserole that my homeless people will love cause it sticks to your ribs.
I think back to all the things I've seen in the streets. The young people who have died from drugs last year, the woman sleeping alone in a parking lot with no lights behind the building next to a dumpster using a cement block for a pillow. Then there were the drunks who were falling on top of me trying to get their meal and couldn't stand up and we had to sit them on the ground and prop them up against the wall then we put their meal in their lap. The ones who affect us most are the children of these people they hang heaviest in my heart. These are the reasons why I have to push on and I have to do it.
I know it's not for me to judge them, it’s just for me to feed them and pray that I give them some strength and substance to carry out another day and maybe make better choices. I treat them all alike because they are somebody, cause I know ‘God don't make no junk.’ Thank you. Remember, you can call me any time with questions. Tony 239.269.8000.