Hometown Heroes: RCS Foodbank helps people in need

Image 1 of 9

Not a lot has changed in Dorothy Hewitt's life since the last time she came to the Religious Community Services food bank. She's still retired and still trying to make ends meet.

"It's really hard with a fixed income, so this helps," said Dorothy.

But the one thing Dorothy doesn't have to worry about is food. For the last six years, Dorothy has relied on the RCS food bank for assistance.

"It gets me by through the month. If I didn't have this, there'd be days that I'd be hungry," said Dorothy.

Dorothy's problem isn't unique. Tens of thousands of people in Pinellas County come to the food bank to get groceries.

"If you take all the people that we serve within a year, you would be able to fill up Raymond James Stadium," said RCS Director, Alex Thomas. "Over 45 percent of everybody we are serving is under the age of 18. And having a child going to school with an empty stomach is just about the worst thing you can imagine."

RCS does more than just provide food; they also provide resources to help people escape the situation they're in. Whether it be homelessness or domestic violence, RCS leads them in the direction of change.

"What we need to do is reconnect people we serve with all the resources to get them out of their situation. Maybe a job, maybe a daycare- whatever it might be -we are asking and seeing if we can connect and help," said Alex.

RCS has been feeding the community since 1967. And they succeed with only five paid employees and the hard work from volunteers, like Cherri McGrew, who spends Wednesdays helping out at the food bank.

"Our patrons that come in here are at a place in life that they need assistance, and being able to respect them and give them what they need for a short period of time is very rewarding," said Cherri.

It's a tough job, helping people when they're at their worst, but the volunteers and staff at RCS always manage to do it with dignity and respect.
"We empathize and we respect our patrons and we empathize with them, because it could be anyone of us," explained Cherri.

So they keep that in mind, each time they fill a shopping cart with food, treating every client with the same kindness and compassion they'd show to a friend.

Click here for more information on the RCS Foodbank.