Space at the table

Space at the table

Space at the table

By E. Adam Porter

Editor, News of SCC & South County

I love Christmas, the entire holiday season. From the moment the turkey comes out of the oven on Thanksgiving until we toast the new year, my spirits are up, and there’s a gleam in my eye.

I love it all: the shopping, the cooking, the friends and relatives coming and going, the gifts, the smiles on kids’ faces, cocoa and cookies, Christmas lights, trimming the tree, getting nowhere near enough sleep on Christmas Eve, and the opportunity to teach my boys about other customs, cultures, and traditions, as well as the chance to learn a bit more myself. I love stringing the lights, cruising to look at others, as well as the movies we watch every year, the books we read, and the music we listen to. Even the Muzak playing at all the stores that I complain about every year secretly puts a smile on my face.

This season, though, my light is dimmed. Earlier this year, we lost my father and my uncle, and each of them took a piece of me with them. As the holidays approach, I think back to the roller coaster of emotions created by disease and the fighting of it. Initially, before bad news became worse news, both men thought they had more time. I called my father on his birthday, and we talked about coming up for a visit. It had been far too many years since we made the trek up to Michigan, and it was way past time. “Wait a bit,” he said, “Come when the snow is on the ground. Your boys will love it, and I’ll feel better then…”

So, we waited… and “then” never came.

My uncle’s doctors thought they found a treatment protocol that would help him beat the cancer. Three days and a few tests later, that all changed. Practical to a fault, he accepted the news with grace, trying to comfort us as we all fell apart.

We held services, shared memories, commiserated best we could in the World of Covid. Talked about how unfair and capricious life can be and consoled each other with well-worn platitudes and ancient truth. Those words, those timeless ideas, are precious and priceless when you need them. But time passes, and another truth invades: those ideas do not replace an empty space at the table. This year, my family in Florida and Michigan will sit down together and try not to look at the empty chair, try not to picture the men who filled them with their laughter and insight and joy. We will walk through rooms in the homes where we always gather, catching shadows and glimpses of remembered moments, snatches of old conversations so real we can almost hear their voice.

This year, in this season of hope and joy and plenty, we will have an empty space at the table and in our hearts. And we are far from alone. Hundreds of thousands of American families will face their annual gatherings with an unexpected emptiness. Pandemic, depression, addiction, illness, accidents, and the inexorable passage of time will all make their presence felt as we gather, or, in some cases, choose not to gather.

In Ecclesiastes, the old wise king reminds us there is a time to weep and to laugh, to mourn and to dance. This year, for so many, our season of joy will be filled with sorrow, empty spaces at tables and in hearts, filled with loss and pain and bittersweet memories.

As I consider the weeks ahead, wondering what it will feel like to experience those dichotomous emotions during my favorite time of the year, I think about all the other people facing a similar emptiness, and I feel a little space open up inside me. A space for their stress and hurt and regret, for their struggles, questions, and concerns, as we all face an uncertain future. It’s not a big space, because I’m hurting too; but it’s there, and I hope it will be enough to bring comfort to friends and family and to share a smile with a stranger.

Grief is a lonely, isolating condition. But this year, I’m reminded more than ever, we’re all in this together.

April 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

April 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Visit the Arcadia Rodeo, laugh and learn with Phoney Baloney, marvel at the blue Angels, enjoy Gazebo concerts, celebrate local volunteers, appreciate Andy Ledoux, take a Nature Break, join a grief support group, explore the...

March 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

March 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Hear from the newly elected SCCCA Board Members, see who helped SCC residents get their COVID-19 vaccine, get away for the day at Apollo Beach Preserve, mark your calendars for a very special livestream theater event, enjoy a...

The February 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS

The February 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS

In this issue… Get to know the SCC Beautification Corporation, discover who won the SCC Photo Club’s Best of the Best contest, get up to date on local infrastructure projects, stay on your toes with the Ballet Club, explore art and nature at...

The January 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The January 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Get to know the members of the Cygnet Yacht Club, meet the candidates in the SCCCA Board run-off election to be held February 3, explore the history of Old Town Hall, see how the Holiday Spirit is alive and well in SCC &...

Space at the table

Space at the table

Space at the tableBy E. Adam PorterEditor, News of SCC & South County I love Christmas, the entire holiday season. From the moment the turkey comes out of the oven on Thanksgiving until we toast the new year, my spirits are up, and there’s a gleam in...

The December 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The December 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We share the holiday spirit of giving with Toys For Tots, see how the Shriners plan to “Save the Day” for some deserving local kids, relive the scary fun of the Ghoulish Golf Cart Parade, explore the holiday gifts and decorations...

Saluting Our Veterans

Saluting Our Veterans

Saluting Our Veterans

By E. Adam Porter, Editor, and the News Team

This month, I asked our reporters to join me in the Editor’s Corner to share about some of the veterans who have made a difference in their lives. If you are a veteran, thank you for your service. And, if your life has been touched by a veteran, I hope these stories remind you of those veterans who made a difference in your life.

Through the help of diligent cousins and computers, I recently learned that my family’s military investment in this great nation goes all the way back before the beginning, to Moses Porter, who fought with General Washington in the Revolution. Military service has remained a venerated vocational pursuit in my family, and when I think about veterans who made a difference for me, the list is endless, so I’ll try to summarize.

My neighbor, retired electrical engineer turned rancher John Sholine, was the first person to encourage me to seriously pursue writing as a vocation, rather than a hobby. Upon my graduation from high school, John gave me a letter, congratulating me and wishing me well. Enclosed with the letter was a poem he had written as a much younger man, during a cold and lonely night in a frozen foxhole in Belgium. That poem, titled Introspection, is one of the best gifts I have ever received.

My grandfather, Major Julian Dixon, led men in both World War II and Korea; my uncle, Robbie Dixon, spent two tours in Vietnam as well as neighboring countries we never officially “visited.” My grandfather died when my mother was very young, and we lost my uncle earlier this year. Every day, I am grateful for their example and for their investment in our family’s legacy. And I miss them. Two of my brothers, Bill and Nathan, served in the U.S. Army, and my eldest son, Christian, has served in both the USAF and the US Army. Chris is currently overseas, in harm’s way, protecting American interests in what remains a war zone. 

Julian Dixon

Robbie Dixon

Christian Merrell

This Veterans Day, and every day, I’m grateful for those who have served and those who still do, grateful for their skill, their work, and their stories… grateful for the examples they set and the legacy they left us to live up to. Many members of The News team feel the same way. Here are their stories…

Diane Loeffler

My father, Lenard Safranski, was in the Army Signal Corps and spent most of his time fighting in Germany, except when he was behind enemy lines in France radioing information about the location of German troops. He never talked about fighting, but he did tell us about some of his former high school classmates being killed right before his eyes. I remember my father talking about sleeping in the snow in Germany. He said he always crawled in his sleeping bag and completely zipped it shut before taking off his boots. He said sometimes it was confusing to know which way was up because the snow was so heavy on top of the sleeping bag. He quickly learned to put his bag near a tree or other large object so that the tanks wouldn’t inadvertently run over him after a heavy snow.

Lenard M. Safranski

In the 1990s, my father was in his seventies. He was upset at some of the negative talk about our troops in the Middle East. He made signs saying, “Honk if you support our troops.” The local newspaper noticed him standing on the corner and put his photo in the paper. Dad’s loyalty and patriotism were unshakeable.

My mother’s brothers served in World War II as well. My dad, my uncles, and my dad’s cousin were all proud of their country and of their service during the war. Putting their lives on the line for our country made them value our nation even more than they had before they enlisted. One of my cousins served in Korea where he spent most of his time guarding the border. He talked about how cold it was. My husband was a Seabee in Vietnam. He drove naval dignitaries around in what they called “the Saigon taxi.” He delivered petroleum to bases in Vietnam and worked in dispatch.

As a member of the high school graduating class of 1967, many of my classmates fought in Vietnam. Most came home afterwards, some did not. I also have friends and co-workers who served in the military. In a world where peace can be elusive, thank heavens we have men and women who are willing to fight for our country and all that it represents. 

Al Cronheim

Paula Lickfeldt

My father, Al Cronheim, left high school and lied about his age to join the army during WWII. He was sent to North Africa where he fought with Patton’s army against Rommel. Later, he and Patton’s force fought in Italy. Dad was in the Army Air Corps for five years. Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to be my dad’s guardian on his Honor Flight to Washington D.C. We really had a good day together. I believe it was one of the very best days I have ever had with my dad.

Joseph W. Sanchez

Bob Sanchez

My father, Joseph Sanchez, was an ensign on the S.S. Flying Eagle, a Merchant Marine ship that transported vital materiel to our troops in Europe in 1944. Ships like his sailed the North Atlantic under constant threat from U-boats. He was a radio officer who sent and received messages via Morse Code, earning him the nickname “Sparky.” A naturalized U.S. citizen from British Honduras (now Belize), he proudly served his adopted country and instilled that same pride in his four sons. He enjoyed teaching Morse Code to me and my fellow Explorer Scouts.

Ilona Merritt

I come from a long line of military men who served their countries with pride. My grandfather was in the German Marine. My father was a pilot in the Luftwaffe. He died somewhere over Normandy on D-Day. My first husband, Ray Baker, served in the USAF, as did his sons, Eric and John Baker. Both were career members of the United States Armed Forces and retired as master sergeants, having served 20 and 26 years respectively. Eric has two sons: 2LT Thomas Baker graduated from the Air Force Academy, and Thomas’ younger son is a U.S. Army sergeant stationed in Hawaii. Eric was the personal photographer assigned to Admiral Leighton Smith, who was in charge of the South Atlantic Fleet. My present husband, Russ Merritt, served in the U.S. Army in Germany during and after WWII. Upon returning home, he found himself getting back on a ship and heading to Korea.

Pictured: top row: Karl Bandelin, Marine; Egon Pawlowski, Luftwaffe. Second row: Ray Baker, John Baker, Eric Baker, Thomas Baker. Bottom row: Russ Merritt, Joe Baker.

From all of us here at The News, to all the veterans in our community and in our lives, thank you for your service, your sacrifice, and the legacy you leave for the next generation of those who choose to serve their nation and her people. And, if you have a veteran story to share, please add it in the comments.

April 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

April 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Visit the Arcadia Rodeo, laugh and learn with Phoney Baloney, marvel at the blue Angels, enjoy Gazebo concerts, celebrate local volunteers, appreciate Andy Ledoux, take a Nature Break, join a grief support group, explore the...

March 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

March 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Hear from the newly elected SCCCA Board Members, see who helped SCC residents get their COVID-19 vaccine, get away for the day at Apollo Beach Preserve, mark your calendars for a very special livestream theater event, enjoy a...

The February 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS

The February 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS

In this issue… Get to know the SCC Beautification Corporation, discover who won the SCC Photo Club’s Best of the Best contest, get up to date on local infrastructure projects, stay on your toes with the Ballet Club, explore art and nature at...

The January 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The January 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Get to know the members of the Cygnet Yacht Club, meet the candidates in the SCCCA Board run-off election to be held February 3, explore the history of Old Town Hall, see how the Holiday Spirit is alive and well in SCC &...

Space at the table

Space at the table

Space at the tableBy E. Adam PorterEditor, News of SCC & South County I love Christmas, the entire holiday season. From the moment the turkey comes out of the oven on Thanksgiving until we toast the new year, my spirits are up, and there’s a gleam in...

The December 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The December 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We share the holiday spirit of giving with Toys For Tots, see how the Shriners plan to “Save the Day” for some deserving local kids, relive the scary fun of the Ghoulish Golf Cart Parade, explore the holiday gifts and decorations...

A Guided Tour of Native Florida in SCC

A Guided Tour of Native Florida in SCC

A Guided Tour of Native Florida, Right Here in SCC

By Diane M. Loeffler

On the first Tuesday of the month, without fail, John Lampkin is at the West Campus Nature Trails at 9 a.m. ready to take you on a free tour. This is your chance to see how this area once appeared and to learn from someone who is knowledgeable and enthusiastic. You certainly will not be bored!

The latter part of August was quite wet, so when I decided to take the tour on September 1, I wore boots. Figuring that mosquitoes like wet places, I put on a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt and long pants. I sprayed some bug repellant on my neck and hands and was ready to go.

Lampkin begins his tour at the canal that runs under West Del Webb. The canal is part of a system of ponds, lakes and canals Del Webb dug to drain the area for development.

Lampkin points out the non-native grasses and the native plants surrounding the canal. Three years ago, a grant for $20,000 was given to help clean out the non-native species that were taking over the canal area, since club volunteers clear out the area by hand. A combination of donations and dues from the SCC Audubon Club help fund periodic assistance from an outside service to remove invasive plants.

Entering the forested area, you will walk through the Mesic Pine Flatwoods ecosystem. You will also see the shady, closed canopy flatwoods area. There are many oak trees including one Lampkin says is, “at least 200 years old judging from the diameter of its trunk.”

There is a large area of saw palmettos. Saw palmettos are spread by rhizomes. The saw palmettos we see here could well be part of a very, very old plant. Only three percent of Florida’s longleaf pines remain, so seeing a virgin stand in our little trail area is very exciting. Lampkin says, “You can tell this is an old area because you can distinctly see four generations of longleaf pines next to each other.”

On the tour, Lampkin points out all sorts of bugs, spiders, lizards and birds. He shows you where they nest, the plants that feed them and the flowers they pollinate. Best of all, he knows the names of the plants, animals and insects.

Like me, you may see turtle eggs on a sandy mound. Lampkin shows you the wasps, bees, and butterflies feeding on flowers and laying eggs on leaves. Some of the creatures are very, very tiny. Lampkin often took photos and then enlarged them so that I could see the detail of the plants and of the life forms on them.

One of the smallest flowers was on a hatpin plant. Lampkin says, “When I first saw it, I thought, what kind of insect will pollinate that? As I observed it over the years, I found 26 species that pollinate it.” By the way, Lampkin also keeps track of all the species of bees and butterflies that make the trail area their home. Ray Webb (not a relative of Del Webb) keeps a record of all the types of birds in the trail area.

Lampkin says, “People may not realize it, but the landscape here is very harsh. Plants and animals must learn to adapt to dry springs and very wet summers. Turtles and some insects lay their eggs in the ground and must find a place higher than where the water will rise.”

In nature, areas such as this would periodically catch fire and the cycle of growth and life would begin anew.

The trails were the brainchild of Mike Raff and were originally maintained by the Hiking Club. The SCC Audubon Club took over in 2015. In 2018, the SCC Audubon Club and the Community Association won 2018 Environmental Project of the Year from the Tampa Bay Association of Environmental Professionals. Club volunteers maintain the area with help from the Community Association staff who mow the paths.

The trail is on the west side West Del Webb, north of Seton Hall Drive and south of Vincennes Drive. There is no car parking there, but you can drive your golf cart over the grass to a marked parking area under the trees. You should leave your cart there as golf carts are not allowed on the trails.

Wear closed toe shoes or boots so that you don’t trip over any roots or stumble on uneven areas. You may wish to spray some insect repellant on any uncovered skin. You can learn more about the trails at “www.sccauduboclub.com/nature-trails”. You can also learn about Florida ecosystems at “www.fnai.org”.

Visit the trail whenever you can for a peaceful walk and some time with nature. Also, consider marking “9 a.m. the first Tuesday of the month” on your calendar. You will be amazed at all there is to see when John Lampkin is your guide.

If you wish to know more about the Audubon Club, contact Mary Duncan at 813 260-3322.

 

IN THE PHOTO: 

John Lampkin conducts tours of the West Nature Trail path. Lampkin uses his experience as a musician and naturalist to make YouTube videos. He has won awards for his nature photography including one of a palmetto skipper for the American Butterfly Association’s magazine.

April 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

April 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Visit the Arcadia Rodeo, laugh and learn with Phoney Baloney, marvel at the blue Angels, enjoy Gazebo concerts, celebrate local volunteers, appreciate Andy Ledoux, take a Nature Break, join a grief support group, explore the...

March 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

March 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Hear from the newly elected SCCCA Board Members, see who helped SCC residents get their COVID-19 vaccine, get away for the day at Apollo Beach Preserve, mark your calendars for a very special livestream theater event, enjoy a...

The February 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS

The February 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS

In this issue… Get to know the SCC Beautification Corporation, discover who won the SCC Photo Club’s Best of the Best contest, get up to date on local infrastructure projects, stay on your toes with the Ballet Club, explore art and nature at...

The January 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The January 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Get to know the members of the Cygnet Yacht Club, meet the candidates in the SCCCA Board run-off election to be held February 3, explore the history of Old Town Hall, see how the Holiday Spirit is alive and well in SCC &...

Space at the table

Space at the table

Space at the tableBy E. Adam PorterEditor, News of SCC & South County I love Christmas, the entire holiday season. From the moment the turkey comes out of the oven on Thanksgiving until we toast the new year, my spirits are up, and there’s a gleam in...

The December 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The December 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We share the holiday spirit of giving with Toys For Tots, see how the Shriners plan to “Save the Day” for some deserving local kids, relive the scary fun of the Ghoulish Golf Cart Parade, explore the holiday gifts and decorations...

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

Local HLAA Members Make Windowed Masks

By Paula Lickfeldt

Imagine being deaf or hearing impaired and using lip-reading as a way of conversing. Now imagine the onset of a pandemic that causes everyone to wear a mask over their mouth, rendering lip-reading impossible.

Eloise Schwarz is the leader of the HLAA Sun City Center Chapter. Realizing that hearing impaired and deaf people needed some sort of a windowed mask, she set out to find a pattern for making windowed masks and to recruit people to help make them. A dedicated sewing team made up of Carol Zeller, team captain, and seamstresses Jan Ring, Nancy Carrier, Mary Christiano, Kathy Moore, Kathy Yeager, Pam Davis, Sally Foree, Carol Aberzik, and Eloise Schwarz all stepped forward to help.

The Clear Mask Campaign offers windowed masks for hard of hearing people and their caregivers in SCC free for the asking on a first-come, first-served basis. Donations may be made when the mask is received. The SCC Chamber of Commerce is the location where the masks can be picked up after being ordered at the chamber. The SCC Men’s Club and the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay are co-sponsors of the Clear Mask Campaign in SCC. These masks take some time to make, but they allow the user to smile and to see each other’s mouths for talking. The elastic bands circle the head instead of hooking behind the ears.  This saves hearing aids and/or the implants from falling off the head when removing the mask.

 

IN THE PHOTO: (L to R) Eloise Schwarz, Sally Foree, Nancy Carrier, Jan Ring, Kathy Moore, Carol Zeller, Kathy Yeager.

April 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

April 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Visit the Arcadia Rodeo, laugh and learn with Phoney Baloney, marvel at the blue Angels, enjoy Gazebo concerts, celebrate local volunteers, appreciate Andy Ledoux, take a Nature Break, join a grief support group, explore the...

March 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

March 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Hear from the newly elected SCCCA Board Members, see who helped SCC residents get their COVID-19 vaccine, get away for the day at Apollo Beach Preserve, mark your calendars for a very special livestream theater event, enjoy a...

The February 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS

The February 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS

In this issue… Get to know the SCC Beautification Corporation, discover who won the SCC Photo Club’s Best of the Best contest, get up to date on local infrastructure projects, stay on your toes with the Ballet Club, explore art and nature at...

The January 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The January 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Get to know the members of the Cygnet Yacht Club, meet the candidates in the SCCCA Board run-off election to be held February 3, explore the history of Old Town Hall, see how the Holiday Spirit is alive and well in SCC &...

Space at the table

Space at the table

Space at the tableBy E. Adam PorterEditor, News of SCC & South County I love Christmas, the entire holiday season. From the moment the turkey comes out of the oven on Thanksgiving until we toast the new year, my spirits are up, and there’s a gleam in...

The December 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The December 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We share the holiday spirit of giving with Toys For Tots, see how the Shriners plan to “Save the Day” for some deserving local kids, relive the scary fun of the Ghoulish Golf Cart Parade, explore the holiday gifts and decorations...

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

A National Award for our Emergency Squad and All of Us

By Diane M. Loeffler

Congratulations to the Sun City Center Emergency Squad. The nation has recognized what we already know, our squad is amazing! Actually, we are all amazing because we support our Squad in so many ways.

On August 12, we learned that our local Emergency Squad (Squad) was recognized nationally as “Volunteer Rescue Squad” of the year for “Outstanding Service and Professionalism.” The award was given by the professional organization representing Emergency Medical Squads, EMS WORLD. The Squad received a plaque and $1,000. The September EMS WORLD journal will have an article about the Squad.

In a recorded statement, Chief Mike Bardell said, “It is an honor to be selected for such a prestigious award. In times that we find ourselves in, you begin to wonder will it ever end. Being recognized at this time certainly makes you feel you’ve made a difference. On behalf of the over 400 volunteers, I accept and thank you for this award.”

Bardell adds, “This award is for everyone, not just the Squad. It is for the community that supports us and all of the people who went before.”

As of September 2020, the Squad has been serving area residents for 56 years.

Assistant Chief of Communications, Robin Watt, says, “We would like to thank all of our volunteers as well as our community. Without the continued support of our residents, we would not be here. But I also think the leadership of our Chief, Deputy and Assistant Chiefs, the Chief Financial Officer and Board play a large role.” She adds, “This award speaks to the community support we have gotten for so long.”

Most of the Emergency Squad volunteers are residents of Sun City Center’s Community Association and Kings Point. Others come from the community at large, Sebring, Orlando, Pasco County, Manatee County and the University of Southern Florida.

 

Who Else is Recognizing Our Squad?

A radio program in San Francisco interviewed Chief Bardell and others. The Squad was also talked about on PBS Front Line. Speaking of the volunteers, Bardell says, “I am glad they are getting the recognition they deserve.”

Over the years, our Emergency Squad has had visitors from as close as The Villages and as far away as overseas. They all want to know how the Squad operates and how to set up something similar in their communities.

 

Working with Colleges

Did you know that Hillsborough County Community College students accompany our Squad sometimes? They are students studying to be EMTs or Paramedics who are required to ride along for 36 hours. Bardell says, “These are the people who will someday care for us. From us, they learn to listen. Really listening to patients is a culture in this squad. If someone is dying, how are you going to go about caring for them and making them feel not alone? They learn by example to calm the patients and to do things like drive 5 m.p.h. over speed bumps when transporting someone with a broken hip. We teach them to be considerate. This will make them more compassionate in the future.”

 

Operating in the Time of COVID-19

Being appreciated is always a good feeling. During this time of quarantines, masks, and restrictions, many of us have had a difficult time being happy and optimistic. Receiving a national award is a real boost for the Squad at a time when we could all use some good news.

Speaking of good news, there have been no cases of COVID-19 in the Squad. The Squad continues to take the temperatures of everyone who enters the building and  to practice advanced safety precautions. Robin Watt says, “We have three people in here every day to oversee protocols to keep people and equipment safe.” These measures are monitored and overseen by Tina Drury, Deputy Chief in Charge of Operations, Shirley Bardell, Chief of Education and Medical, and Chief Mike Bardell.

Bardell says, “When the virus hit, I thought we would have to shut down. If we don’t have volunteers, we don’t exist. People still have strokes, people still fall down, would we have the volunteers we needed? By March 12, I knew we would be fine.”

Drury says, “We had some volunteers opt out and some are doing different jobs, but most volunteers are continuing as usual. If the schedule is tight for a shift, people have volunteered to come in an extra day.”

Additional volunteers are always needed. Training programs continue with all safety measures in place. Human Resources Director, Assistant Chief Chris McCann works with volunteers. She asked one trainee, “Do you feel safe?” The answer was, “Absolutely. I don’t have any fear at all.”

 

And the Story Continues

Recently a crew of 30-somethings visited our Squad for two days. The intent was to make a documentary about the Squad continuing during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Bardell says, “You should have seen the look on their faces when they saw the volunteers. They were surprised at the ages of the volunteers and the enthusiasm they saw.” One cannot help but wonder, in the end will the documentary focus more on the virus or on the great things seniors in a volunteer-based community can do?

 

Did You Know?

The average age of the 400 Emergency Squad volunteers is 72. The Emergency Squad is the only all-volunteer, all free ambulance service in the state. It doesn’t accept insurance and doesn’t use any tax money. It is completely funded by the community.

The Squad owns its building in front of the shopping strip and also the training center on South Pebble Beach Boulevard. The main building was constructed by Del Webb in 1964. Over the years, it has been expanded and updated. The training center was donated to the Squad by the former volunteer fire department.

Emergency Squad volunteers are trained and have ongoing education to keep their certification and update their knowledge. Volunteers report a feeling of camaraderie and family.

You can borrow wheelchairs, walkers and other assistive items for free.

The Squad works with other organizations to educate people about health concerns and disaster preparedness. They also offer fall prevention presentations, Stop the Bleed training, and CPR training. They work with the University of South Florida Institute for Government and Business on community needs assessments.

Squad members are active participants in emergency squad related meetings and committees both at the state and county level. Call Chris McCann at 813-634-1411 for information on how to become a part of the neighbor helping neighbor family.

The Sun City Center Emergency Squad were recognized by the county commissioners in 2016 and 2020. On June, 2013 they were recognized by the Florida Council on Aging as the top EMS agency in the state for its service to seniors. Most recently, they have won the Volunteer Rescue Squad of the Year for Outstanding Service and Professionalism.

On behalf of grateful people throughout the area, thank you, Emergency Squad Volunteers. You are the best.

April 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

April 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Visit the Arcadia Rodeo, laugh and learn with Phoney Baloney, marvel at the blue Angels, enjoy Gazebo concerts, celebrate local volunteers, appreciate Andy Ledoux, take a Nature Break, join a grief support group, explore the...

March 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

March 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Hear from the newly elected SCCCA Board Members, see who helped SCC residents get their COVID-19 vaccine, get away for the day at Apollo Beach Preserve, mark your calendars for a very special livestream theater event, enjoy a...

The February 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS

The February 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS

In this issue… Get to know the SCC Beautification Corporation, discover who won the SCC Photo Club’s Best of the Best contest, get up to date on local infrastructure projects, stay on your toes with the Ballet Club, explore art and nature at...

The January 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The January 2021 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Get to know the members of the Cygnet Yacht Club, meet the candidates in the SCCCA Board run-off election to be held February 3, explore the history of Old Town Hall, see how the Holiday Spirit is alive and well in SCC &...

Space at the table

Space at the table

Space at the tableBy E. Adam PorterEditor, News of SCC & South County I love Christmas, the entire holiday season. From the moment the turkey comes out of the oven on Thanksgiving until we toast the new year, my spirits are up, and there’s a gleam in...

The December 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

The December 2020 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… We share the holiday spirit of giving with Toys For Tots, see how the Shriners plan to “Save the Day” for some deserving local kids, relive the scary fun of the Ghoulish Golf Cart Parade, explore the holiday gifts and decorations...

Thank you.

Thank you.

By E. Adam Porter, Editor

 

Out of an abundance of caution, in these challenging times, for the good of the community, we have all come together to read sentences that begin like this entirely too much over the past month or so. Let’s start over with what really needs to be said: THANK YOU.

Thank you to the phenomenal health care workers whose professional and personal lives have been turned upside down, who go to battle every day, fighting a war with, at least for now, no clear end in sight. You wield all the best weapons at your disposal: education, wisdom, wit, grace, patience, love, and an indomitable spirit. And you keep fighting even when you don’t have everything you need. We love you. All of you. 

Thank you to our law enforcement, who put their lives and health on the line to take care of us, to help the sick and the scared, those who have been victimized, while also dealing with the belligerent, the ignorant, the afflicted, and the evil. Thank you to all the first responders who show up as fast as they can when we are in the worst moments of our lives, who offer aid and comfort in our times of fear and pain. And a special “thank you” to our all-volunteer Emergency Squad and Security Patrol. Each of you is amazing.

Thank you to our military for showing all of us the meaning of duty, honor, and sacrifice. Later this month, we were scheduled to gather, as we do every year, to commemorate those who gave the last full measure of devotion in service to our country and her people. Like many things in this time, that service has been canceled. But nothing will rescind the respect and appreciation we have for those who faithfully served. 

Thank you to our teachers who routinely go far and above the call of duty to educate and protect our children. Teachers who, in these past weeks, have been asked to do even more and found a way to make it work. Parents are working, kids are confused, worried, and scared; and no one knows quite how to use the new technology. They all come to you, at all hours of the day and night. You are therapists as well as educators, and now you are web developers, video producers, and tech support. We see you, teachers. 

Thank you to the tireless volunteers who have poured their talent, time, and effort into meeting so many needs, closing so many gaps, and creating so many smiles. Making and delivering food, sewing and distributing masks, building PPE, picking up necessities, looking for opportunities and always going above and beyond. 

Thank you to the staff, volunteers, and correspondents, and readers who help build The News every month. Thank you to all the journalists out there taking risks to deliver the story. You rarely get mentioned as “essential workers,” but you’re always there. In the middle of the protests, at the hospitals, out in the community, anywhere there’s a story that needs to be told. 

Thank you to local, state, and federal decision-makers who are trying to do an impossible job, without precedent, working without a net. No matter what you do and when you do it, people will say it’s too much or too little. Right now, the big question is “when.” Like as not, it will be both “too late” and “too soon.” You know that, and you have to choose anyway. 

Thank you, business owners. When you started your business, investing all that money, blood, sweat, and tears, you probably didn’t have “Worldwide Pandemic” penciled in the margins of your business plan. And yet here we are. Some of you were forced to close. Others remained open. Nearly everyone has lost a catastrophic amount of business. Many of you have been forced to cut payroll, to lay off or furlough workers. I see you there, sitting up late, wondering how they’re doing, and how you’re going to get through this. 

This is a good spot to offer a huge THANK YOU to our advertisers. Some of you have been with The News since the beginning. Others came along later and stuck with us. Many of you have become our friends. You represent lifelong dreams, private practices, family businesses, and big corporations, the “backbone of America” and the “infrastructure we can’t live without.” To us here at The News, you represent the resources that allow us to do what we do: Deliver positive news, fun opportunities, and current events to the residents of Sun City Center & South Hillsborough County. Thank you for helping us make this happen. 

Thank You to our “essential workers.” I’m guessing, about six weeks ago, you did not realize just how “essential” you are. But we knew. We have food to eat because of you. Our family and our pets are safe and healthy thanks to the risks you are taking every day. Our homes are pest-free, our mail is in the box, our power is on, our trash is gone, and our A/C is working. It’s Florida. It’s May, and summer’s coming… There is no price that can be placed on working air conditioning. To all of you “essential” workers, listen, that word just doesn’t cover what you mean to us. 

Speaking of essential people, Thank You to our artists, musicians, writers, and entertainers who make life – especially life in quarantine – sweeter, brighter, and better. By sharing your talent and hard work, you have given us a priceless gift. Thank you for immersing us in beauty, awe, and transcendence. Thank you for entertainment, for laughs, for illustration, for understanding… for a story to share, a melody to sing, and the rhythm to dance.

Finally, thank you to everyone reading this. The opportunity to share good news is not something that comes along often in the media business. Being part of a positive community news publication is a unique blessing, and I’m grateful.

Be well. Stay safe. Thanks for reading.

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