TAMPA (FOX 13) - Penny Vinik is known as the first lady of Bay Area hockey, but many may not know she's a favorite with the kids during story time at Metropolitan Ministries.
Penny and her husband, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning Jeff Vinik, both say they learned the importance of philanthropy at an early age, from their parents.
"Because they gave back in any way they could to their communities," Vinik told FOX 13 News. "We knew when he bought the team that being a part of the community was a huge part of being a sports owner,"
Penny said she and her husband wanted to encourage others to give back, too. In 2011, they launched the Lightning Community Hero Award initiative at the Metropolitan Ministries campus in Tampa.
"One of the greatest things of the Community Hero Program is highlighting the heroes amongst us, the people that are kind of in the trenches day-in and day-out, helping the less fortunate," Vinik said.
Many of those heroes have stepped in to help the hundreds of families in need at Metropolitan Ministries.
"It's been really heartening to see people opening their homes, and their wallets, and everything, to support places like Metropolitan Ministries," she said. "They need resources in order to touch as many families and as many children as possible."
Thanks to the Viniks, the kids at Metropolitan Ministries have a gym known as the Vinik Family Activity Center. Penny says, whether it's giving time or making a donation, we can all be a blessing to someone in need.
"If we all pitch in, great changes can be made," said Vinik.
Metropolitan Ministries honored Vinik for her community service with the Bridge Builders Award.