“We just need one more stack of banana pancakes and then we’ll be ready to serve,” Harry Arthur said to his wife, Julie, as he flipped the last batch of pancakes.
A line was beginning to form outside the cafeteria on June 8 for what has become a monthly tradition at Pathways to Care, a program of Catholic Charities of Central Florida.
Pathways to Care is a 40 bed, nonprofit respite center for homeless men and women who need a place to recover after a medical injury or illness.
On the first Sunday of each month, the Arthurs spend their morning making scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns and pancakes to serve the residents of the assisted living facility.
“They call it Harry’s Special because of his banana pancakes,” said Julie. “He’s the breakfast chief.”
After raising five children of their own, the Arthurs have no trouble whipping up a large breakfast, even if that breakfast needs to feed a group nearly four times the size of their family.
“We want to give back to the people. We want to make their Sabbath a little special and give them a good breakfast,” explained Harry. “My dad’s biggest thing was to care for those who need it. God doesn’t ask a whole lot of us, but to take care of each other and to feed the hungry with more than food – to feed them with kindness and love.”
“We just want to see people happy,” added Frank Hemmings, a retired accountant who volunteers with the Arthurs.
The volunteers are from St. Stephen Catholic Church in Winter Springs and other parishioners also frequently help out at Pathways to Care. A group of men recently donated and installed flooring to replace 20 year old carpets at the facility offices. Members of the youth group have painted rooms and served meals to the residents.
“It’s so good for the kids to have a chance to meet the residents and to listen to their stories,” said Julie, who coordinates religious education for the parish middle school youth ministry.
In addition to owning an insurance agency with his wife, Harry is also a Rotarian with the Winter Springs Rotary Club. “The funds we raise throughout the year, we hand out to nonprofits in the community,” he said. “We just made a donation to Pathways for the work they do with the homeless in our community.”
“As our residents begin to heal physically and spiritually through our program, we are able to give them the opportunity to find a place other than the streets to call home,” said Dawn Zinger, Director of Pathways to Care.
Over the years, the Arthurs have met many amazing residents. They remember one resident with Parkinson’s disease who would play the piano after breakfast and sing amazing grace, never stuttering.
“You get to know them. They are so grateful,” said Julie. “But we get so much out of serving them, so much more than they get out of the breakfast. That’s what keeps us coming back.”
In 2013, the facility helped 200 individuals on the road to recovery. Through its generous and caring community of staff, donors and volunteers like the Arthurs, Pathways to Care is able to provide a safe place for its residents to recover. For information on how you can volunteer or donate to Pathways to Care, visit www.cflcc.org.