BRADENTON – While our team members feel fortunate to be at work serving our residents, many of us have family members or loved ones who are out of work due to the pandemic. That can still make it hard to put food on the table.
A few team members at Westminster Point Pleasant had an amazing idea for how they could help: Create a food pantry for those in need, with donated staple food items that can still provide nutrition. The team member food pantry opened last Thursday and they’ve already received hundreds of items, ranging from canned and shelf-stable food to paper towels and toilet paper.
“We were looking for ways to possibly support other team members,” said Sarry Garraud-Thomas, Health Center Admissions Coordinator. Garraud-Thomas is the leader of the committee of team members who volunteered to help create the food pantry, along with Social Services Assistant Marie Christensen, Medical Records Clerk Tina Davis, Staffing Coordinator Terri Smith and Health Services Administrator Erin Blakely. Garraud-Thomas said, “Erin suggested in a meeting that we try a food pantry and run it off donations as much as possible, which sounded like a great idea.”
The food pantry is operating out of the beauty shop in the Towers Building at the community, because the salon is not operating by executive order of the governor.
Having a food pantry for team members allows Westminster Point Pleasant’s staff to show how they care for each other, said Blakely. “Many of our team members have said that their spouses and many of their loved ones are jobless,” she said. “We’re now providing staff meals for free while at work, but what about when they go home?”
Garraud-Thomas said that the response has been overwhelming. “It’s beyond our wildest dreams,” she said. “We’ve been donated so many items from our staff and from our independent living residents, who understand that some families are experiencing some financial difficulties.”
Executive Director Tom Sutton applauded the move as a way to help bring the community together in this challenging time. “We are grateful that all of our staff are still here and working to serve the residents. But even so, their families aren’t immune to hardship. Having the food pantry can help someone put food on the table when they go home to be with their loved ones.”
If you live or work at Westminster Point Pleasant and would like to make a donation to the food pantry, you may leave your donation at the site or provide them to Garraud-Thomas or Christensen. Donated items are restricted to non-perishable goods, because no refrigeration is available.