Port St. Lucie resident helps fight hunger

By Greg Lindberg

December 2010

AARP Florida

Three years ago while conducting door-to-door outreach for her real estate business, Rosie Lee was struck by the thought of helping others. Lee, a Port St. Lucie resident, rounded up her family, drove to various neighborhoods in the area and put grocery bags and flyers on doors. The flyers announced a food drive and included a date they would return to collect the food.

“I thought I could be spending my time doing something more productive now,” said Lee, a 49-year-old mother of six. “I always had an affinity for the food bank.”

In the first month of the collection, the family collected 500 pounds of nonperishable food items, from soup to cereal that they donated to the Treasure Coast Food Bank. Lee then started a competition among neighborhoods to see which could donate the most food to the collection. After eight successful months, Lee delivered nearly 5,000 pounds of food to the food bank.

Hundreds of people helped in both the donation and collection processes. Lee and her willing team of volunteers went to eight different neighborhoods in Port St. Lucie and Ft. Pierce. The collection began in the summer, which is typically a very slow time for food banks.

At first, the food bank was surprised – perhaps even a bit perplexed – at how much Lee had collected.

“They didn’t know what to do with me,” she said. “But they were so appreciative of everything we brought.”

The food bank serves four counties on Florida’s east coast – St. Lucie, Okeechobee, Martin and Indian River.

Lee, who works part-time as a real estate broker, also runs a food truck at local events and charities in the Treasure Coast region. She has volunteered her time preparing food for events and charities, including the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, the Salvation Army and the Special Olympics. She continues to donate to the food bank.

Out of the hundreds of notices she placed on doors, Lee never got a single lead for real estate. But in the end, the food drive far exceeded her expectations. She wants others to believe that every person can contribute something to their community just as she does.

“My motto is, ‘If you give people an opportunity to do something good, they will,’” she said. “Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something.”