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Ministry planning rise from ashes

The Widow's Oil Ministry will renovate an old auto dealership and nearly double the size of its food pantry.

By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 24, 2000


Widow's Oil Ministry, whose home on Shady Hills Road burned to the ground in May, plans to reopen in August at a new location on the east side of Brooksville.

Collaborating with the Christian Contractors Association, another non-profit organization that helps people in need, Widow's Oil will renovate an old auto dealership at 22255 Cortez Blvd., Widow's Oil founder Sylvia Robinson said Friday.

Each group will have offices at the site, and Widow's Oil will have a food pantry close to twice the size of its previous one.

"My faith has been that God is going to restore everything better than it was before," Robinson said. "That's what he is showing me."

Money donated to the organization since the fire will help pay for building materials, she said. Famous Tate Appliance and Mattress is discounting the price of new refrigerators, she said, and an anonymous individual has given money to replace the group's five destroyed freezers.

The agency cannot accept donations other than building materials and money until the construction is completed. Also, people seeking assistance should not flock to the new location just yet, as it remains a work in progress.

Before the fire, Widow's Oil regularly served about 150 children and 75 adult women each month, providing free food, cleaning supplies and other household items they needed. It sold furniture, appliances and other goods at a thrift shop to raise money.

Robinson did not worry that the ministry would lose its clientele by moving north and east from the Pasco-Hernando county line.

"If you were out in the middle of a cow pasture, they would find you if they're looking for free food, free clothing and free furniture," she said. "It's not people in need that I'm worried about finding us."

If donors cannot get to the new site, she said, someone from the ministry will go to the donors.

The 6-year-old charity, which had no insurance, lost everything in an arson, apparently set by a burglar in early May. Instead of serving the needy, it found itself searching for a place to continue its work.

Time was of the essence, Robinson said, because a community tends to lose interest in a charity if the charity disappears from view for too long. "I just had to keep tight through prayer," she said.

To contact Widow's Oil, call (352) 238-0794 or send mail to P.O. Box 15302, Spring Hill, FL 34609.

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