Metropolitan Ministries to expand center's kitchen
HOLIDAY - Although a transitional housing project is on hold, Metropolitan Ministries plans to proceed on a $1 million kitchen expansion at its Pasco Outreach Center in Holiday. Gov. Rick Scott recently vetoed a $1.3 million state grant that hurt the short-term prospects of building transitional housing, said Tim Marks, president of the Tampa-based Metropolitan Ministries. The charitable organization wanted to build a two-story building with as many as 24 apartments at the Pasco branch, at 3214 U.S. 19, primarily to shelter families in crisis. Pasco County commissioners have pledged $600,000 to supplement private donations for upgrades, the Rev. Dan Campbell said. The building is estimated to cost about $2 million.Campbell oversees Metropolitan's Pasco Outreach Center and is active in the Coalition for the Homeless of Pasco after serving as its president for three years. He helped write a 10-year plan to end homelessness in Pasco called Pathways to Permanence. As part of that goal, Metropolitan would like to feed more needy people, Marks said. The mission provides breakfast at 3244 U.S. 19. Marks, however, envisions a kitchen with the capacity to produce up to 2,000 meals a day, beyond just breakfast. Homeless individuals interested in culinary arts could learn job skills at the kitchen as well, he said. Construction could start this fall, Marks said, at the first wing of the transitional housing unit. Campbell would like to see the kitchen ready by Thanksgiving. Pasco remains near the top among Florida's 67 counties in the proportion of homeless people, Pasco County Community Development Division director George Romagnoli said in May at a county commission meeting. "They're not hidden," Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said. "You see the homeless in many places." She hopes that "some guardian angels step up" to assist with expansion of the Metropolitan Ministries Pasco Outreach Center. "I'm sure they'll try again next year," Romagnoli said of Metropolitan renewing its quest for a state grant. The transitional housing unit would provide shelter for families while they seek employment and permanent housing. The two-story building would include a living room with computers for job searches and résumé preparation. The plan also calls for a laundry area and playground. For information, call the Pasco Outreach Center at (727) 937-3268 or go to www.metromin.org.