Although this year has been difficult to navigate, our seniors have shown resilience and have continued to thrive, thanks to supporters like you. We are excited about the positive support from our community and are grateful for the new partnerships and opportunities that have emerged. However, after another year where isolation and fear touched so many, the human connection is more important than ever. Reaching out is essential and we at Pie in the Sky do that through personal home delivery of fresh healthy fruits and veggies to 467 hungry seniors across the county. There are many stories from throughout the year but one sticks out a little more than the others and truly speaks to the year we have had. It is about tomatoes. Since we first began our foray into the world of food, everything always comes back to the humble, beloved tomato. Back in the old days of our food pantry, folks who were waiting in line were always asking about the tomatoes, not the steak or the chicken or the cheese, just the tomato. When we had our farm truck, people came from miles around to purchase the gorgeous bright red, firm, yet juicy Ruskin tomato. Once a woman was holding up such a beauty and she said to me seven words I will never forget, “It’s hard to meet a good tomato.” As we began our Senior Produce Program it quickly became evident that the legend of the tomato lived on as the seniors we delivered to share with us daily, their love of the tomatoes. Two of the staple items that our produce bags are never without are bananas and tomatoes. One day, a few months ago, Phyllis, our program manager received a call from a woman who lives in a four-story senior apartment building. She was breathless and her words were frantic as Phyllis tried to get her to calm down and it finally became clear what she was calling about. “Phyllis,” she said, “I was at the doctor today when my produce was delivered and they hung it on my door as usual but when I got inside and emptied it out, there were no tomatoes. Did we get tomatoes this week?” Phyllis told her that of course tomatoes were in her bag, they are always in every bag, right on the top to maintain their freshness and non-squish ability. “Someone has stolen the tomatoes out of my bag,” she declared to Phyllis. “You know the tomatoes are like gold,” she exclaimed. And just like that, this story became known as “The Grand Theft Tomato Tale.” Naturally, Phyllis rushed right over and replaced the allegedly purloined pomme d'amour (French) and the senior, though still aghast at how anyone could illegally obtain her precious “gold” sighed with contentment upon seeing that Phyllis had brought her three extra tomatoes to ease her sorrow.
I know it may sound silly, to be so upset about a tomato, but in a year of uncertainty and chaos that has disrupted the lives of us all, for our seniors, knowing that we will be knocking on their door, twice a month with a smile, a kind word, a bag of fresh produce and yes, a couple of tomatoes, is the one thing they can count on. Because of your generosity Pie in the Sky can be the face of dependability in a time of turmoil and change. This brings us back to the tomato, which is packed with loads of nutrition, is a senior favorite and a hallmark of our program, and are indeed, like gold. The price of a case of tomatoes has risen nearly 94 percent in the last year from $23.95 to $46.58. Sadly, tomatoes are not the only product that has gone up. Our weekly produce bill rose to an all-time high just this week even though we purchased fewer items than our usual 10-12, our bill was still more than $1400. Prices continue to climb and we see no end in sight in 2022. We are asking you to donate what you can to support our unwavering commitment to serve the vulnerable food insecure seniors throughout St. Johns County. Your donation, whatever the amount, supports our fight against senior hunger and every amount helps us continue to reach and uplift more seniors in need, transforming lives one at a time.
None of what we do would be possible without you, our supporters and we are so very grateful for all that you do.
In Loving Memory of Stephen Manning, a cherished member of the Family of Pie
This isn’t the story I planned to write. Well, the beginning is, but the ending has changed. A while back I sent out an email asking our volunteers for stories about what Pie in the Sky meant to them. The first story I received was from a young woman, Christine Goehring, who volunteered with her dad, Stephen and her three small children. She wrote, “When my dad and I joined the Pie in the Sky delivery team 2 years ago, we never could have imagined the difference it would make in our lives. It’s important to me that my kids serve others in need, so I have been blessed to have my 2-year-old alongside us for our deliveries as well as my 6-year-old and 8-year-old in the summers. For many of the seniors we serve, they have very little interaction with others during the week- especially with young kids. And let me tell you, they absolutely LOVE seeing the kids each week. It puts a huge smile on their face when they open their door. My family has developed some amazing friendships with the seniors on our route and it’s been such a gift to not only bring them healthy food to nourish their bodies, but also bring them love and joy to nourish their souls.” Christine’s beautiful description captured the truest essence of all that Pie is, a family coming together to serve, children learning the gift of giving, and seniors being touched by the lives of three generations coming to their homes, filled with armloads of food and an unending supply of love and smiles and hugs. Most of all, Christine and her family gave hope, an important part of Pie, to all the seniors they served, showing them by their actions, that compassion runs throughout our community and through the Manning family, is being practiced in a way that will create another generation of givers. This family embodied the foundation and the spirit upon which Pie in the Sky was built. Stephen was also well-known and highly valued around the Pie warehouse. Program manager, Phyllis Wood would often brag about him, saying that he would notice things around the warehouse that might need attention and suddenly the issues were resolved. “We bought a deep sink for the bathroom,” Phyllis said, “Stephen kept seeing it sitting in the bathroom, unattached and one day he asked me if that is where the sink was going to stay. We laughed about it and the next thing I knew, he was there with his tools, installing the sink.” Then there was the issue of freezer space. He asked Phyllis one day what she needed around the warehouse, and she jokingly said, “more freezer space.” The next thing you know, there was a new freezer, courtesy of Stephen and Christine. Christine and her family moved to St. Augustine a few years ago from San Antonio, Texas where they volunteered for Meals on Wheels. They were looking for something similar not long after they arrived. Giving back to their community is a part of who they are, Christine told me. They found Pie on Facebook and were given a route in a low-income apartment building where they began spreading joy to neighbors in need. What a delight it was for a senior to answer their door after hearing the tiny knock of a three-year-old. One of the seniors they deliver to is Terry Arnold who said, “They remind me so much of my family when my children were young. It warms my heart so much to see a family that works together for the benefit of others." Mrs. Arnold said it is especially meaningful to see three generations giving back to their community. “They are all so precious. I just think they are a lovely family and, in a world today that doesn’t generally focus on families, it is heartwarming to know they exist. Young people today need to see the values that are modeled by this family.” Christine, her dad and her three children, are indeed a family that should serve as a model for all. Putting compassion into action and sharing their giving hearts with others in their community. We are so honored to have them as a part of our Family of Pie. And this my friends, is where the story would have ended a few weeks ago. A glowing tribute to a father and a grandfather who inspired his daughter and grandchildren and everyone he met, showing by example how important it is to give back. I am saddened to say, the story I write today has a much different ending. Stephen Manning became ill back in July and was hospitalized. Sadly, he passed away on August 18 and everyone who had the honor of knowing him, are devasted, most especially his family. Christine told me, through tears, that the last full day she spent with her dad was July 8, her birthday. “We spent the day doing what we love, visiting our seniors,” she said. “It means so much to me that we spent that time together and it is a memory I will always cherish.” She said volunteering with Pie was the biggest part of his life and, “a huge, huge blessing to them all. “We are so grateful that we found this wonderful organization,” she said. Christine and her dad began volunteering in 2019. Stephen would come in on Wednesday to help unload the truck and then he and Christine and her children would spend their Thursday’s delivering their route. “Volunteering at Pie in the Sky not only gave us a chance to give back to the community, but it also gave us a chance to create memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. My dad loved all the people he met through Pie in the Sky and knowing these wonderful people gave him a sense of belonging and purpose during his retirement years,” Christine said. As Mrs. Arnold said, “this is a model family”, showing, by doing and even now, with Stephen gone, they are still thinking about giving back to their community. From Christine, “My heart aches knowing that he won’t be with me physically as I continue our delivery route, but it brings me peace, joy, and comfort knowing that I can continue to do that in memory of him. Many people have asked me what they can do for our family during this difficult time and the thing that keeps coming to mind is supporting the organization that he loved so much. I will never be able to put into words what my dad’s time at Pie in the Sky meant to him and to my whole family, but I know he would be so grateful to know that we are continuing to bring food to the seniors in our community who are in need. I would encourage you to come along side my family and donate to Pie in the Sky in memory of my dad.” I can think of nothing else to add to this poignant story except to say that our lives have all been made richer having known Stephen and his family and we are honored and so grateful that he chose the Pie community as his own. To all the Manning family, we send our heartfelt prayers for healing and our gratitude for sharing Stephen with all of us at Pie in the Sky. The world is indeed a better place, having been touched by the life lessons Stephen so generously shared with everyone he met.
With love and respect, Malea Guiriba and all the Family of Pie.
This new campaign is designed so that everyone can give something and see the immediate results of their giving. For non-profits, recurring gifts are especially important. No matter the amount, monthly donations can make a lasting impact. Every dollar counts for nonprofits, and a guaranteed dollar a month is always a comfort for organizations like Pie in the Sky who run on the generosity of others. More than offering Pie a steady stream of income, smaller donations that occur throughout the year are generally more manageable for the average donor, and can make the same impact as a one-time larger gift.
Spreading out your donation may even allow you to contribute more than you originally thought. For example, spending $500 all at once might be too much for the monthly budget to handle, but if donating $50 every month is doable, you’ll actually donate $600 by the end of the year! Joining our recurring donor program gives you membership in our #wearePIE Special Counsel. More than just becoming a member of the Family of Pie, your monthly donation will provide lasting support for seniors in need.
As if that wasn't enough, the first five people who sign up to give $50 per month for one year, will receive a free PIE! Additionally, each month, every donor will be included in a random drawing for a free PIE. As a member of the #wearePIE Special Counsel, your name(if it's okay with you), will be listed on a special page on our website AND every three months your name will be included in a drawing for PIE Perks like t-shirts, stickers, pens and more. The last 18 months have been hard on us all but it has been especially hard on our seniors. COVID-19 has increased the need for food and social connectedness, now more than ever. It is so important that isolated, hungry seniors know there is always one thing they can count on: food and compassion delivered to their door by Pie volunteers.
We love our donors, each and every one of you and we wouldn't be where we are today without you. We are grateful for your support, your love and your commitment to our mission of fighting senior hunger in our community and we hope you will join us in this new initiative and add your name to our Family of Pie.
Gratefully, Malea Guiriba Executive Director, Pie in the Sky
Please click on the link below to read more about the story of Mrs. Crews and her granddaughters who collected pennies for Pie and to get started making sure your pennies count.
Our Mission Pie in the Sky Community Alliance of St. Johns County is a grassroots, volunteer-based organization providing hope by serving with dignity and respect to alleviate hunger and social isolation through the home delivery of fresh healthy produce to low-income seniors.
According to the most recent U.S. Census - 6,000 PLUS SENIORS ARE HUNGRY IN ST. JOHNS COUNTY.
This is what you need to know about Pie in the Sky’s Senior Program: We deliver to 465 seniors. We have 35 seniors on our waiting list. 15 of the seniors on the waiting list are between 80 and 98 years old. Many others face chronic health issues that could be helped by having healthy food to eat. Let that sink in - having healthy food to eat - in America - in St. Johns County - in our own backyard!
We are directly addressing this need in all the ways that make a critical difference, by delivering fresh produce and spending time with these seniors in St. Johns County. This has a direct impact on the health and well-being of the folks we deliver to. We need to do more.
It costs Pie in the Sky $304.00 per year, per senior to deliver fresh produce and donated food items twice each month.
That’s 83 cents per day. Less than the price of a cup of coffee.
The price of everything has gone up since the pandemic began and it continues to rise well into 2021. Still, we do our best to purchase the highest quality produce at the best prices and we work extra hard to make sure as much that each dollar donated is spent with care. Currently, 92 cents of every dollar that is donated to Pie goes directly to our program. Last year we purchased and delivered 37 tons of healthy food. We need your help to maintain 465 seniors and add 35 seniors on the waiting list that need fresh fruits and vegetables to survive. That’s 83 cents per day. We're all in this together, and one day, God willing, we will all be seniors. God willing, we won't have to worry about having enough food to eat. Every Dollar Counts.
Front row, left to right: Loretta McMaster, Melissa Strohminger, Teresa Fischer Back row: Teri Bachus, Betsy Freeman
Our Founder and Executive Director
Malea Guiriba has become a folk hero – an example of what one person can do to change the world: one house, one person, and one day at a time. She’s had careers in real estate and journalism, but it is her activism that has touched hearts and changed lives. Malea has been a passionate worker in the civil rights and domestic violence movements, always embracing the disenfranchised and poor. While working with the domestic violence shelter in St. Augustine, she took a post as Rural Services Coordinator in the small farming town of Hastings. She built her program from scratch by embedding herself in a community, which was long ago divided by race, class, and economics. Malea was inspired by two middle aged African-American men who had essentially been enslaved as farm workers for most of their life. Their experiences awakened her to a need she never imagined existed: helping the historically underprivileged Hastings farm workers. She and others were shocked that one of Florida’s richest counties could be the site of such inhumane treatment. It became her mission to provide basic needs to families including healthcare, as well as safe and affordable housing. The program became a focal point of the community, but suddenly was without the grant funding that kept it going. Malea was suddenly unemployed, yet determined to continue the work she had begun. Her answer was to open Pie in the Sky, a pie shop symbolizing what someone called her “pie in the sky” ideas about how to help people. Two months after she cleaned out her office, she served her first pie – a real achievement, considering she’d never baked a pie in her life. She’s since sold more than thousands of pies in just under two years. She’s helped by delivering furniture to a family that lost its home to fire, buying dentures for a man to build his confidence while he focused on finding a new job, riding in the potato fields to take a man to his doctor’s appointment, building wheelchair ramps, running a food bank and taking food to homebound low-income senior citizens and much more. The work Malea has accomplished, continues to inspire others and to grant the gift of giving to the volunteer workforce. Her mantra is, “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.” Whether she is selling pies, delivering food as a mobile pantry, or wielding a power saw to help build a ramp, Malea sets the example for those around her and spreads her goodwill, her can do attitude, and passion for helping wherever she goes.
Board President Loretta McMaster
As a Registered Nurse I learned the value of good assessments, listening, seeing and caring for individuals with respect for their needs, their stories and their circumstances. Through additional training I have enhanced my skills to help and serve others—meeting and caring for them “where they are” in their lives. I trained and worked a crisis hotline in Chicago; trained and served as a Stephen Leader and Stephen Minister for 22 years; trained and volunteered as a Domestic Violence Counselor; and served as coordinator for a Caregiving Ministry in Mi My training and experience also prepared me to start the Parish Nurse Program at my church in Ct. As Parish Nurse I was teacher, facilitator, advocate and made referrals for members of my congregation and community. Coming to Florida I volunteered as a pregnancy counselor before turning energies to helping the farmhands and people in need through my work for Pie in the Sky (PIE). I was introduced to PIE through my church. What greater cause than the mission of “bringing HOPE to those thinking they have been forgotten”. My participation at the weekly food pantry helped me better appreciate the needs of the farmhands and those in poverty. Although the food pantry had to shut down, Malea (Director of PIE) did not give up. Her passion for helping those in Hastings and surrounding area is infectious! As PIE evolved to the programs today, I have gone the path. Seeing the smiles and anticipation of those waiting for their delivery of fresh produce and listening how their lives and health are better is rewarding and enriches my life. Working with the people PIE continues to help is truly God’s call.
Vice-President Betsy Freeman
What do you like to do in your spare time? Traveling and camping, volunteering in my community-- helping where and when I can with social justice projects and education, spending time with family and grabbing any opportunity I find, to be out on the water
What inspires you? People. For all that is heartwrenching, conflicting and sometimes tragic..... when you take moments to speak with those around you, to listen, to feel, people will always show you true inspiration, resilience, motivation and ultimately love
Why are you in nonprofit work? It sometimes fills a need to be hands on; making a difference. Making connections and not only seeing progress but feeling it as it unfolds. What emotional reasons? Instant gratification or seeking it, seems to be the new norm... but planting seeds to be harvested even long after I'm gone, helping to cultivate and grow what others have already planted and continuing to nurture it for next person and the next--- triggers a variety of emotions such as love, acceptance, a fulfillment of hope
Who is a hero of yours? Every day people, my family, my wife
What’s something quirky about you? Hhmm.. come back to this one
Why Pie in the Sky? It's not just an organization, in my mind and heart I know it's a movement. A grassroots movement not only helping locally and daily but spreading awareness and hope beyond just our community..... every time someone hears of Pie, reads an article, sees a video or picture, donates-- we've spread not only our mission but shown others what's needed and what's possible.
Teri Bachus- Secretary
In my spare time, I like to spend time with my family, kitties and friends and I enjoy playing piano, cooking, traveling, walking on the beach.
I am inspired by everyday people who rise above their own struggles to lift others.
I am involved in non-profit work because I enjoy being of service to society. It gives me a sense of purpose to work with others who believe in the mission of our organization and who are passionate about making a difference in the world and in our community.
All farmworkers who labor in the fields to put food on our tables are my heroes.
A quirky thing about me is that I am a spelling fanatic.
Pie in the Sky highlights a cause I care deeply about. I believe in its mission. I enjoy connecting and interacting with our inspiring Director and our dedicated team of volunteers as well as the seniors we serve.
After graduating from Boston University with a degree in Elementary Education, I worked as Teacher and Director of Headstart Preschools throughout western Washington, serving children of migrant and seasonal farmworker families. Later served as VISTA volunteer and fundraiser for the Whatcom Literacy Council in Washington State.
Melissa Strohminger Treasurer
In my spare time, I like to be outdoors and spending time with my grandchildren. I am inspired by the many young people that I meet who are doing so much good work to make our community and world a better place. I am in nonprofit work because of the giving culture and the nature of the work. People in this field are here to make a difference, not make a fortune. Some of my heroes are the people I work with everyday, doing their thing, following their hearts, not making a big deal about it. One quirky thing about me is that I refuse to use a smart phone or any other "smart" technology. Pie in the Sky is such a basic concept - feed people, help people, it's so organic and simple. And Malea has managed to continue the mission of Pie no matter what resources are available or not. My background is in community service. I have lived and worked in St. Johns County for nearly 30 years, always working with children and families in some capacity, and now doing administrative work to support the missions of those organizations.
Teresa Fischer Board Member
What do you like to do in your spare time? Travel, going to the movies, camping, bike riding, taking trail hikes, working in the yard, spending time with friends.
What inspires you? God and seeing others give unselfishly of themselves.
Why are you in nonprofit work? What emotional reasons? To help others, to give back a little, involvement is something worthwhile.
Who is a hero of yours? My husband Steven who has passed away, he could talk to anyone, he loved helping others and could relate to the old and the young, something I always admired about him; and my niece Malea, she gives so unselfishly of herself.
What’s something quirky about you? I still think I am 20 in my head.
Why Pie in the Sky? Honestly, because my niece is involved and asked me to help, I saw the need in the community. I already do some volunteer work for Ronald McDonald House and although I don't deal with the children directly, there is a lot that needs to be done on the sidelines. Same is true with Pie in the Sky.
Background and professional history. I am a Jacksonville native, in the mortgage profession most of my life from Origination to processing and closings. I am now semi retired, work part time still in mortgage work. I was very involved in a community service organization, the Jacksonville Junior Chamber of Commerce for many years and was President back in 1990-91. Seems like a life time ago. I know what effort and commitment it takes to put together an organization that continually helps others as I have done it myself through the Jaycees. I am a Christian, a cancer survivor and a widow. I still count my blessings every day and hope that in some small way I can help others less fortunate.