What it’s like to volunteer at Helping Hand

Article by Gerry Denecke 01/30/19

“I would describe it as a well-choreographed ballet “explained Dale Whipple an eight year veteran volunteer at Englewood Helping Hand, either that or “controlled chaos” he laughed.

Englewood Helping Hand volunteers left to right Cynthia Hodas, Dale Whipple and Dabbie Erickson

Viewing the five volunteers, bustling, balancing, and bumping within the confines of the food pantry, I would have to concur. Monday through Thursday  between three and five volunteers bag up and pack out canned goods for the more than 110 clients that visit the Englewood Helping Hand food pantry each week.

But hopefully soon, that will be changing.  Englewood Helping Hand is in the midst of a capital fund drive, seeking to secure funding for a new building, so that they can serve the community better and reduce the bumping.

One in five kids in Charlotte and Sarasota County is food insecure. Since 1983, Englewood Helping Hand has been providing food, rent and utility subsidies for folks in Englewood, Grove City, Rotunda West, Placida and Gulf Cove. Red tide, hurricanes and seasonal unemployment make this service to our kids, seniors, veterans, the disabled and the homeless life changing.

Because of the generosity of the Englewood United Methodist Church, the folks at Englewood Helping Hand won’t have to travel far. Their new building, which will include running water, bathrooms, a kitchen, a food pantry, three offices, and a meeting room will be built just south of the existing building, located on the EUMC property.

Food pantry shelving

With $325k “in the bank” they are already halfway there. But, the race is on. Englewood Helping Hand needs your help. Their goal is to secure an additional $295k by May 1st so that their new facility can be built.. Maybe you can help.

Lobby shelving and refrigerator

Please give whatever you can to Englewood Helping Hand Building Fund, Englewood Helping Hand, 700 E. Dearborn St. Englewood, FL. 34223 or donate on line at www

With your support Englewood Helping Hand can do more to serve the community better in their new home.

All Faiths Food Bank Mobile Pantry

Article by Gerry Denecke 01/25/19

Red potatoes, green leafy cabbages, bulky bags of onions, and today, fresh strawberries.  All spread out on eight foot tables behind All Faiths Mobile Farm Market Truck. An oasis of fresh vegetables in what in the past, had been a food desert for folks struggling to make it.

It’s a rainy Thursday, January 24th, in Englewood, and the All Faiths Mobile Farm Market truck has pulled up at Englewood Helping Hand located at 700 E. Dearborn St.  It’s 11 a.m. and the folks are already beginning to line up with their umbrellas, to wait. The truck, stocked with close to two thousand pounds of fresh produce, won’t be packed out for another hour yet. But as one smiling client told me, “It’s worth the wait to know that I’ll get fresh spinach to eat tonight.” By three p.m. it will all be gone, given to those who need it free of charge.  Close to 200 people will sleep better this week, knowing, that at least for the next couple of weeks, there will be nutritious food on the table.

Since 2014, All Faiths Mobile Farm Market truck, with the help of a contingent of volunteers, has changed people’s lives. The mobile food market truck stops in Englewood on the second and fourth Thursday of the month.  It offers fresh food and hope.

In all of our lives, stuff happens.  A once promising job in a restaurant disappears when red tide hits and business slows. You’re out for a week with the flu and the job is gone.  A spouse dies after a long illness and suddenly, the family’s income is cut in half.

Over 30% of what All Faiths Food Bank distributes is fresh produce. Produce is sourced from local food and grocery stores and local growers. As the only food bank in Sarasota and DeSoto County, All Faiths Food Bank puts 91 percent of all donations directly back into programs and services.

You can help too. Englewood Helping Hand, Inc. is affiliated with the All Faiths Food Bank and can purchase more food from the All Faiths Food Bank per dollar, than anywhere else.

Please give what you can.  Every dollar counts. Make checks payable to Englewood Helping Hand, Inc. and send to Englewood Helping Hand, 700 E Dearborn St. Englewood, FL 34223  d0 List T

Stamp Out Hunger

The 2018 National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive on Saturday May 12 was a big success thanks to the Letter Carriers and the many volunteers that joined forces in the Greater Englewood Area to collect food, sort and store it.

Englewood Helping Hand volunteers met at the Englewood United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall at about 10 AM and worked most of the day. The food collected will help many needy families this summer.

 Thank you Englewood

The 2018 24 hour Giving Challenge on May 1st & 2nd was a big success due to generous contributions from our community and matching contributions from the Patterson Foundation.

The Challenge presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County raised funds to feed families and provide emergency financial aid to prevent homelessness this summer.






Lemon Bay Playhouse sponsored a fundraiser for Englewood Helping Hands, Inc. at the playhouse. The LBP volunteers and actors provided an additional performance of the show Murder at the Howard Johnson’s written by Ron Clark and Sam Brobrick and directed by Bob La Salle, on October 27, 2015. All proceeds from this additional performance went to the support Englewood Helping Hand, Inc., our local food pantry. A total of $2,373.86 was obtained from ticket sales for this benefit show. A drop basket was also on hand at the theater for donation of non-perishable food products.

Many thanks to all of our volunteers for helping out on this special fundraising performance. We also thank the community for supporting this activity for the Englewood Helping Hand, Inc. in the way of ticket purchases and a “sold out” performance. We greatly appreciate your support and help to “fill the house” and the “drop basket”. You helped put the “fun” in “fundraiser”.

In the photo above Lori-Nan Mihaley and Audrey Rice (l to r), Officers of the Englewood Helping Hand, Inc., accept a check from for Robert La Salle, Lemon Bay Playhouse board of trustees president, for $2,373.86, the proceeds from the fundraiser ticket sales.