On Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Seffner, at a Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting on Nov. 13, Cynthia Pinckney took center stage as she thanked the Lord, and her supporters, for their grace and goodness in helping her become more firmly footed in her work to help the poor and homeless.
"It takes a lot of love to open up a place like this and do things like this," said Carol Tyson, from Everest University, who sang a song at the grand-opening ceremonies. "I was once in need and it's great to have a place like this to come to for help."
The "place" is at 12008 East Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., in the Greater Brandon area of Seffner and Mango. Inside the Cynthia Pinckney Ministries storefront, between Pine Street and Highview Road, are clothes closets for men, women and children; a food bank; a room for prayer and meditation; a conference room; and two reception areas.
- For a look inside the storefront ministry, see
This is the place for God's work, Pinckney said. Also, the next step in her ministry, and calling, she added, which for years she has carried out in the streets and fields of Greater Brandon, among the poor and the homeless, and in assocciation with area churches and nonprofits, waiting for her time to open a brick-and-mortar ministry.
"It is such a blessing, and an honor, that you are here to share in this wonderful day. It has been seven years coming," Pinckney said, with a catch in her voice, as she addressed the ribbon-cutting attendees. "And I praise my God that He alway keeps his word. Sometimes you have to wait, and wait, and wait. But if you wait, you'll get it. I know this."
Pinckney thanked her friends and supporters, who gave of their time and suggestions as the storefront mission took shape. In particular, she thanked Danny Maynard and his wife, Mary, who was in attendance at the ribbon-cutting. Her husband, Danny, died before the center's grand opening; a picture in his memory hangs prominently in the building.
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At the grand opening, Brian Lamb, president of Fifth Third Bank Tampa Bay, presented a $500 check to Pinckney and said more would come. Moreover, he said, he and other bank employees would be volunteering at the ministry.
When asked, Pinckney answered that the ministry going into the end of the year and holiday season is in need of a big tent for a Christmas day of giving. Also needed: socks, sweaters, jackets, underwear, blankets, backpacks (new or gently used), sleeping bags, diapers, formulas and "food, always food."
"Everything that you see in here has been given, has been donated, or we've been given money to purchase," Pinckney said.
Her future plans are to expand the ministry so it can offer a place for the homeless to take showers, for people in need to sit down and eat together and for those without shelter to get temporary housing.
"Nobody tell me I can't get that vision," Pinckeny said, "because I worked seven years to get this vision."
Pinckney is well known in the homeless community and in the Greater Brandon community as well, where for years on Thanksgiving Day and on Christmas Day she worked with area churches to provide a holiday meal for people in need at various locations, including at the Bill Carey Boy & Girls Club on Knights Avenue in Brandon.
"I had to walk in a certain position so I could feel what the homeless were feeling, so I could feel what the needy were feeling, so when they told me their story I could connect with some of it," Pinckney said in her remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "And that's what we have to have, the heart of a servant."
Cynthia Pinckney Ministries is online and can be reached at 813-571-1556.