Everyday Hero: The very spirit of volunteerism

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Laura Simkanich eats, sleeps, breathes and truly lives her volunteer work.

She’s completely dedicated to serving her Pinellas County community.

This Everyday Hero is making sure residents down on their luck have clothes on their back and food to eat.

For Simkanich, serving the people and the needs of Lealman residents is her mission.

“I was born here in Lealman,” she said. “This is my county. This is my city. These are my people.”

Her spirit of volunteerism is truly off the charts and occupies a large part of her waking hours. Most is under the umbrella of the Florida Dream Center, a non-profit community-supported organization involved in a great many challenges.

Feeding and providing for the homeless and others in need is one.

Part of her time is spent in the “boutique” where people can shop with dignity selecting the clothing they need without charge.

“We ask for donations of food, hygiene products, clothes because we have people who come to us and say i need. (What) do you have?” Simkanich said.

Every year, the group makes sure kids get the school supplies they need.

She is also part of some very busy Saturdays.

“They have never missed a Saturday handing out food,” she said. “Even when we had Hurricane Irma coming through they were there handing out food.”

She was recently honored with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Community service award. All of this is a small fraction of Simkanich’s work.

“I volunteer because I can,” she said. “My parents taught me how to give back to the community. We weren’t rich but I had their time and that’s what you need.

“It’s the satisfaction of knowing that I helped you.”

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