Zephyrhills Free Press

A dream come true

East Pasco Meals on Wheels opens new facility and Community Center

Two years ago, someone in a meeting told Beth Acker the goal of an expanded Meals on Wheels location with a community center was a pipe dream. That meeting was March 20, 2019.

On Saturday, March 20, 2021 that dream became a reality when the ribbon was cut at the 38112 15th Avenue location.

Aker and more than 400 people helped usher in the new East Pasco Meals on Wheels location featuring the Genesis Community Center. In a special block party celebration complete with live music, auctions, tours of the new facility and of course, a meal, Aker’s dream was shared with the community.

Aker still has the invitation she sent to community leaders to help determine community needs that could be tackled by East Pasco Meals on Wheels and move the organization forward. Aker pushed the need of a community center.

“Someone in that meeting said it would never happen,” Aker said with a grin. “They said it was too much and we could never raise that kind of money. I was discouraged. The last thing I wanted to be told was, “No.”

The word “No” doesn’t fit in Aker’s vocabulary. With her heart and determination, coupled with a dedicated team of volunteers and a supportive board of directors, she turned “No” into “Yes.”

 To get to this point, Aker was in need of funding. Months had passed since she applied for a grant that was critical in the success of her dream. A last minute check of her email on a Friday evening yielded approval of a $60,000 grant award that led to the purchase of the new building, renovations, the community center and Saturday’s ribbon cutting event.

East Pasco Meals on Wheels provides meals to 150 clients daily and helps provide food to eight different food banks in the area. The community supports the organization with donations and celebrated their grand re-opening in the new facility.

“It’s beautiful to see the community support here today,” Aker said. “You hear tremendous amount of negativity from people, but I believe in the goodness of people and the support here today shows it. People rally around any organization that does good for the community.”

The community center aspect of the East Pasco Meals on Wheels facility will provide cultural services, entertainment opportunities, services for the visually impaired, educational opportunities, pastoral services and human services. The center will also be available for rent for events and office space is available to assist clients.

According to Aker, the Genesis Center is to “Give our seniors a purpose for today and our youth a promise for tomorrow.”

“If we can partner those two together, how great would our community be? How much more of an impact can we make on our kids and make our seniors feel valued at the same time? The possibilities of the Genesis Center are endless.”

Pastor Nick Deford of Zephyrhills Church of the Nazarene, served as a volunteer driver with the organization several years ago and has seen the mission of East Pasco Meals on Wheels grow tremendously under Aker’s guidance.

“The expansion of from the basic end of serving meals to the elderly and keeping an eye on them to know serving other food pantries and other ministries is amazing,” Deford said. “I see our community growing and I see an increasing need for more organization like Meals on Wheels to step up and serve outside of themselves. If we can have other people do what Beth is doing, we would have a huge need filled.”

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