Masked hospital staff are recognized for all they do by donated meals from RHCC and local restaurants.

By Gwen Rollings

“The best part of the deliveries is seeing their eyes light up because we know they are smiling in gratitude and thanks for thinking of them.” Bob Swezey, general manager of River Hills Country Club (RHCC) in Valrico, said this about hundreds of mask-wearing healthcare and hospital staff as they receive meals delivered to them from a generous local initiative.

After reading an article discussing the intensified personal and professional pressures on healthcare-connected workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Swezey wanted to do something for those in the community who are on the front lines in this war. That ‘something’ became a collaboration with the membership at RHCC: preparation of meals by RHCC Sawgrass Grill and local restaurants.

Swezey said, “We are blessed because our membership has funded this effort 100 percent. These donations are used to prepare meals by both our club and selected restaurants.”

Of the over $9,000 in donation commitments received so far, 50 percent of those funds go to meals prepared by Sawgrass Grill and 50 percent is shared with family-owned restaurants like The Landing, Sunflower Grill and Café Cuba to finance its preparation of the meals.

Although it was possible for Sawgrass Grill to prepare all the meals and retain the funds in its club, that was not the spirit of its efforts. Aware that survival of many small eating establishments frequented by RHCC membership is in jeopardy due to COVID-19, RHCC reached out to include them.

Swezey explained, “We contact a restaurant and buy $500 worth of meals from them, and then we deliver with $500 worth of meals on behalf of the club at RHCC and the restaurant.”

Presently, Brandon Regional Hospital and Tampa General Hospital/Brandon Healthplex receive deliveries. Ten deliveries a day on 10 days each month means 100 heroes on the home front will receive a delicious meal on those days.

Swezey said if donations increased, more meals and additional locations can be added to support the nurses, doctors, administration, engineering, sanitation and all departments that risk their lives to support us.

Swezey welcomes all surrounding residents who want to donate toward meals to contact Margie Martin at 653-1554 or mmartin@riverhillscountryclub.com.