MANATEE COUNTY - This 7 Who Care honoree finds time to be a mom, work a full time job, and serve as the board chair for Meals on Wheels Plus. She is active in the community helping out with Keep Manatee Beautiful and is a member of the Palmetto Rotary. She represents what giving back to the community is all about.
The non-profit organization Meals On Wheels Plus of Manatee County recently received high praise as the number one charity of the Suncoast, which includes the entire Tampa Bay Area. “We could not win that award without all of the volunteers who help us throughout the year, whether it’s at the kitchen or the food bank or delivering the meals,” says CEO Maribeth Phillips.
And that’s where Terry Wells comes in. This incredible person has been doing all those things and much more for over two decades, making a difference in people’s lives throughout the Suncoast.
The mother of two defines what giving is all about. “I’ve been volunteering for Meals On Wheels Plus since 1991, since we moved to Manatee County from Wilkes-Barre, PA.”
The saying the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree is spot on as to why she is so charitable. “Well I was raised Irish Catholic. I’m one of 9 children, I have wonderful parents with big hearts and they have always been involved and they always were helping others. They went to church, Boy Scouts, nursing homes near us, they helped out with that and my mom actually delivered for Meals On Wheels in PA.”
Involved is an understatement when it comes to Terry’s life. “I’ve helped with delivering meals, sorting food for the food bank, been on the food line, I have helped with different events and different activities that go on, and it’s easy to get involved if you want to.”
The group prepares more than 700 meals daily to help individuals to live independently by providing nutrition and caring supportive services to people in need. It is a daunting task, and she does it all with a smile on her face.
“The people here at Meals On Wheels are my extended family; they have become a part of us and we enjoy working with them,” says Wells.
She’s quick to point out it’s not all about her. “It’s not just one person; it takes a whole team of employees. There are 400+ volunteers and the staff and board.”
She now serves that Board as the Chair for the award-winning organization.
Besides having a full time job at First America Bank, Terry is a member of a world-wide club that helps to combat hunger. “I’m a rotarian, and rotary is ‘service above self’. It’s a perfect organization for me to be a part of.”
Being the past president of the Palmetto Rotary, she came up with an idea to stock the food bank, and have some fun while doing it. “I like to be creative, so we started the can sculpture contest to create awareness for the food bank in Manatee County. We ask local businesses, schools, groups to come up with an idea and we stay with the theme of the fair. Last year it was Manatee Goes to Hollywood.”
This popular contest is held at the Manatee County Fair each year, and brings in tons of food to help feed the needy of our wonderful community. “All the food after the contest is donated to the food bank of Manatee.”
While talking with Terry we were inspired by her desire to give back. “My favorite thing is encouraging other people to give back because everything matters; whether you do something once a year, once a month, once a week, or whether you sponsor and event or you give a dollar…it matters.”