Five Minutes With Jim and Pat Withers

Five Minutes With Jim and Pat Withers

By Jennifer M. Trefelner


Posted October 18, 2013 at 11:16 a.m

“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves,” is one of Jim and Pat Withers favorite quotes.They live this motto daily, by volunteering at numerous venues in our area and raising funds for organizations that support those in need.

“We have been very fortunate growing up,” remarked the couple who has been happily married for the past three-years. “Both our lives were very rich with family love and support. Those memories drive us to ‘pay it forward’ with the vision that others may be spurred to do the same in whatever capacity they are able.”

Moving from the mid-west in the 90s, the retirees now enjoy a life that is closer to the water. After feeling the urge to give back to the community, the duo began volunteering for the annual United States Postal Service Food Drive three-years ago. It was at this time they met enthusiastic volunteers from the Treasure Coast Food Bank and became aware of people in the community who were at risk of hunger and sought out ways they could make a difference.

The three main organizations that Jim and Pat support all revolve around hunger, saying, “hunger can come in many forms, from the young to the elderly. It can often be ‘hidden’ and may be experienced by people around you. It is our belief that one receives so much more if one gives.”

The first organization the Withers started supporting was the Treasure Coast Food Bank, which serves as the largest hunger relief agency on the Treasure Coast, providing millions of pounds of food to more than 200 charitable organizations in Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee counties. The Food Bank’s vision is, of course, to see a hunger-free Treasure Coast, and the Withers contribute to that vision by donating and participating in food drives, as well as volunteering at the Fort Pierce Farmers’ Market soliciting donations for the food bank.

The duo also wanted to becoming involved all aspects of food preparation and serving, and thus Jim and Pat began volunteering with Sarah’s Kitchen. The interfaith non-profit, has five existing sites in the area, and serves more than 1,000 hot meals a week to individuals and families who live below the poverty line. In 2012, the couple, along with fellow volunteers, helped serve more than 46,000 meals.

Most recently, Jim and Pat also started volunteering for Family Meals, Inc., a local non-profit that provides ingredients for families to spend time together,both in their own kitchen preparing a meal and then sitting together to enjoy that home-cooked meal. Along with other volunteers, they spend time fundraising, conducting events and raising awareness for this group.

The Withers have no plans to slow down from their commendable efforts, as they want to continue to give and be grateful.

“The most rewarding part of volunteering is the feeling that we ARE making a difference.”



Why Mealtime Matters, TC Palm


Family Meals, Inc. – Why mealtime matters

By Sydney Liebman

Friday, February 15, 2013

If energy and enthusiasm were all it took to keep a non-profit afloat, Family Meals, Inc. would be setting sail for a smooth cruise around the world.

Founder Martha Taylor is a bundle of joyful dedication to bringing back family meal time, without watching television and without texting. She and her board, Myrna Boman, Debbie Reed and Jan Autin believe the fabric of family is woven by shared experiences and time spent together.

What is your picture of family dinner time? Is Mom in an apron, napkins folded on the table, children cleaned and waiting for Dad to come home from work? Or is everyone in the kitchen helping prepare the meal that will be enjoyed with fun and spirited conversation about the day’s events? Or is everyone in the family left to fend for themselves?

It is the idealized version of a family sitting, breaking bread, conversing, forgiving and repairing that embodies the mission of Family Meals, Inc. Volunteers know how busy lives have become, with most parents and care-givers working outside the home; maybe even each with two jobs. They also know children’s lives are busy with homework assignments and afterschool or church activities.

Studies have shown there is something about a shared meal that anchors a family even on nights when the food is fast and everyone would rather be someplace else. It doesn’t have to be a big “Sunday dinner,” but it does have to be regular and reliable.

In fact, it’s the experts in adolescent development who are most emphatic about the value of family meal time. It’s in the teenage years this daily investment pays its biggest dividends, as studies show the more often families eat together, the less likely children are to smoke, drink, do drugs, and the more likely they are to do well in school, eat their veggies, learn communication skills and learn proper etiquette.

Volunteers with Family Meals, Inc. want to help those in need by providing the ingredients and recipes/directions for meals so everyone in the family can play a role in the preparation, giving much more value to the meal, itself, and providing something to talk about.

Family Meals, Inc. is new to the spectrum of non-profits in St. Lucie County, but in the first effort, volunteers were able to provide the makings for 14 Thanksgiving meals. In the second effort, they provided 62 bags of meal ingredients, and the next project is to provide meal bags to families for Easter.

To that end, they are selling raffle tickets for a 30-inch chocolate rabbit hand-made and donated to Family Meals by Bruno’s Chocolates in Fort Pierce.

With a goal of being able to help others throughout the year, Martha Taylor says they are tackling their largest fundraising effort to date: “A Concert Tribute to the Music of Paul McCartney,” with special guest artist Scott Benge at 7 p.m. on April 12 at the Sunrise Theatre Black Box. Tickets are $30 per person in advance or $35 at the door and are available by calling (772) 461-4884.

To learn more about Family Meals, Inc. call Martha at (772) 370-0891.

501(c)3 Disclaimer

Family Meals is a not for profit, charitable organization formed under Section 501(c)3 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Donations to Family Meals are tax-deductible as charitable contributions for US federal income tax purposes. There are no donation limits or restrictions on contributions to Family Meals.