Hometown Heroes Help Their Own
By Mandy Miles - April 20, 2020
The news isn't all bad.
Sure, there’s plenty of that going around these days, but let’s also take a moment to find and appreciate the good that remains in our world.
I just returned from Frederick Douglass Gym in Key West, where Islamorada restaurant owner Mike Forster set up a tent and distributed 500 meals, which each included a whole rotisserie chicken, to an orderly array of masked and socially distant residents on foot and in cars.
The owners of Viva Saloon on Duval Street cook and distribute hot meals this week in Key West. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly
“Everybody really behaved themselves and stuck to the rules,” said Forster, who owns Mangrove Mike’s and serves as mayor of Islamorada. “It went so smoothly, we’ll be back here each Wednesday afternoon.”
Key West Police Chief Sean Brandenburg was behind the serving lines handing out bags of food that were topped off with bunches of fresh flowers donated by Maria Hopwood of Maria’s Hope & Prosperity flower shop in Islamorada.
Azur restaurant and Metropolitan Community Church’s Cooking With Love program deliver meals to the most vulnerable residents. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly
“She sells her flowers at my restaurant, and when she heard we were coming down here to give away food, she didn’t hesitate and said, ‘I’ll come and give away flowers,’” Forster said.
A day or so before that, the owners of Viva Saloon handed out hot meals to another orderly line of locals, some of them holding toddlers, while awaiting the generosity.
Florist Maria Hopwood of Maria’s Hope & Prosperity flower shop, Renee Makimaa and Mike Forster distribute food in Key West. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly
A few blocks away, an army of volunteers from Metropolitan Community Church’s Cooking With Love program showed up at Azur restaurant at the corner of Fleming and Grinnell streets. Each delivery duo picked up insulated totes loaded with meals and a list of deliveries to make to the most vulnerable members of our community.
Last, but in no way least, Sister Season Fund set up shop at the VFW Post 3911 on North Roosevelt Boulevard to trade face-covering buffs for donations that will be used to continue providing $1,000 grants to tourism-dependent households.
Key West Police Chief Sean Brandenberg and Islamorada Mayor Mike Forster, who owns Mangrove Mike’s restaurant, distributed 500 meals on April 15 in Key West and will continue on subsequent Wednesdays. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly
And let’s keep in mind, there are other things working in our favor these days:
It’s not hurricane season.
Think about it. We all could be watching some unnamed storm off Africa get itself organized and hustle across the globe. We’re not dealing with that, at least not yet (knock on wood someplace, please.) But for now, we’re not trying to put up plywood and stock up on survival supplies during this crisis. And most of all, we have power. And air-conditioning. And the internet.
Let’s also take a moment to appreciate something we all were dreading.
The Cow Key Bridge work isn’t nearly the headache we expected.
Have you even noticed the lane closures on the bridge? You surely haven’t been stalled in the dreaded gridlock that was threatening to wreak havoc on morning commutes and school bus schedules.
This crisis has brought out the best and the worst in people. I’m choosing to focus on the best, at least until I run out of toilet paper.
Take care of yourselves and each other, Key West.