Annie McKoy: Spirit of Gainesville nominee
Published: Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 1:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 1:35 p.m.
Generous, patient, caring, resourceful and dependable; these words all describe Annie McKoy.
Category: Community Service
About Annie McKoy
Occupation: Worked for the state of Florida for 31 years training the mentally challenged to communicate their needs and wants to others
Years in Gainesville: Has lived in Gainesville all her adult life
Spouse: Was married to Morris McKoy for 29 1/2 years (deceased)
Children: Three children; one son and two daughters
Civic involvement: Member Johnson Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, serve as superintendent for Sunday Morning Church School, choir member; member of Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Association District; serve as 1st vice president of the District Congress of Christian Education; serve on the Barbara Higgins Scholarship Committee; served on the Board of Directors for Family Christian Association of America (FCAA), Miami, Fl. President (CEO) of Gainesville Family Community Outreach, Inc.
Annie strives to make life better for the less fortunate in our community by feeding their emotional needs and their stomachs through the Gainesville Family Community Outreach, Inc. organization. Every Tuesday for the past four years, Annie has prepared a meal for residents in the poor Phoenix neighborhood in southwest Gainesville. For many, this is the only hot meal they will eat all week. North Florida Regional Medical Center generously donates leftover food from their kitchens and Gainesville Harvest provides drivers to deliver the food. Each week a different amount of food is donated; ranging from 14 pounds one week to over 200 pounds another!
It takes creativity and resourcefulness to create a meal each week for 85 to 100 people with leftover food, but Annie always manages to accomplish this. Many times, Annie purchases extra vegetables or meat with money out of her pocket so she can create a complete meal.
Not only does Annie feed the residents of the Phoenix neighborhood, she cares for them in other ways. Some days she drives people to the doctor for medical care they would not get otherwise. During the summer months, Annie provides activities five days a week in a summer camp for 30 children from the neighborhood. She also gives them a safe haven, encourages them to stay in school and to better themselves.
Annie is very important to the residents of the Phoenix neighborhood and the city of Gainesville. We are fortunate to have this wonderful lady in our city. Annie volunteers to care for the people in the Phoenix neighborhood as if they were family. She never expects anything in return. I think Annie McKay deserves to be recognized with a Gainesville Spirit Award for her selfless work volunteering to better our community!
Submitted by Laura Clark
A second nomination
Times can be hard for many residents in the Phoenix neighborhood in Gainesville, but for the past four years they have been able to count on getting a hot meal every single Tuesday evening, compliments of Gainesville's own Annie McKoy. Also, from June to August, when school is out, Annie McKoy offers a free summer day camp for thirty resident children in Phoenix Apartments and from August to June, Annie opens up the community center during after school hours for neighborhood children who need to do homework in a quiet environment.
As volunteers for Gainesville Harvest, my friend and I have been able to appreciate first hand Annie's commitment to improving the lives of the poor residents of Phoenix. On Tuesday mornings, we pick up leftover food from North Florida Regional Medical Center and deliver it to Annie at the community center. Every Tuesday, Annie prepares meals for between eighty-five to one hundred people of all ages combining the leftover donations (which can vary greatly in amount from week to week), items provided by Gainesville Harvest and items Annie herself purchases to compensate. There have been days when the donated leftover food has been minimal and it might amount to three or four trays of food. “Oh, I'll figure something out” she always tells us, with a smile on her face. You can leave it to Annie and her “magic skills” to produce about one hundred hot, balanced meals, Tuesday after Tuesday, with limited resources. Annie does not give up.
Annie McKoy offers free summer day camp for the entire duration of summer to thirty children who live in Phoenix Apartments. Any summer camp teacher will tell you that this kind of work can be very rewarding but very exhausting, particularly when the budget is very small. But Annie does not give up. For five days a week through the summer, from ten in the morning through the afternoon, Annie manages to offer thirty Phoenix children a safe haven where they receive academic instruction, go on field trips, play outside, play sport, all topped off with a full meal and snacks. Due to budgetary constraints around the state, the Alachua County School Board has not been able to offer as many summer camps throughout Alachua County as they used to. Thanks to Annie, many children in Phoenix Apartments have been able to attend summer camp. With her summer day camp and her after school program, Annie is making a tremendous difference in the lives of many Alachua County youngsters all year round, year after year.
Annie McKoy wears many hats in the Phoenix Apartments: she is a fundraiser, a teacher, a mentor, a chef, a cook, a food server, a driver, a cleaner, and the list goes on. And Annie does all of this on a volunteer basis, with no financial reward for all her time and effort. Annie perfectly fits the Gainesville Sun's definition of community service for the Gainesville Spirit Award: “A volunteer whose unselfish devotion of time and energy improves the lives of others”. Annie McKoy's selfless dedication to improve the lives of the less fortunate in Alachua County should be rewarded with the 2011 Gainesville Spirit Award.
Submitted by Barbara Martin-Hasty