For her two months aboard the USNS Comfort during the War with Iraq, Angie Nimmo, a lieutenant commander Naval nurse, had a lot on her mind. Thanks to a group called the "Floris Friends," one thing Nimmo did not have to worry about was whether 6-year-old Maddy and 2-year-old Alex were eating well.
The Floris Friends, an extension of the Floris Elementary School PTA, was originally designed to help welcome new families and new students into the school’s "family" and into the Floris neighborhood, said Karrie Craig, the school’s PTA president. "We have lots of new families in the area," Craig said. "So, this was just a great way to answer questions ranging from ‘kiss & ride’ etiquette to registering for Girl Scouts."
The scope and breadth of the program soon extended way beyond its roots, Craig said. From military families affected by the war to down-on-their-luck families affected by the sluggish economy, the anonymous band of volunteers, both parents and teachers, have tried to help bring warm meals to needy families and terminally ill parents.
While Nimmo was tending to the sick and wounded in the Persian Gulf, the Floris Friends were tending to Nimmo’s family. "They were just wonderful," Nimmo said. "They came twice a week and brought dinner for our whole family."
Floris principal Karen Siple said the volunteer spirit is alive and well in the Floris Elementary School community. After a portion of the elementary school’s roof caved in earlier this year, PTA parents and Floris Friends volunteers helped in the clean-up and the aftermath, Siple said. "I am really excited that the PTA has taken this additional focus," the first-year Floris principal said. "This has been very well received and I expect more teachers to donate their time to this worthwhile group."
THE HOME COOKING was popular with Nimmo’s two young children because her husband of 10 years, Paul Nimmo, is not known for his ability in the kitchen, she said.
Nimmo, a veteran of the first Persian Gulf War, said her experience in the recent conflict was much more emotionally draining and difficult. Nimmo was not married and did not have children during her first go-around in the Persian Gulf. "The first time was just one big adventure," she said. "The second time, I was just extremely busy. It is great to be home. Leaving my kids was the hardest part. Two times is enough, hopefully I won’t have to do it again."
Knowing that her two children were being fed dinners that were not served in a bucket or with a side of fries, made the separation a little easier, Nimmo said. Parents brought over lasagna, pizza, pasta, casseroles, chicken potpies and cookies while Nimmo was away. "I knew they wouldn’t starve," she said, laughing, "but it was good to know they would get something other than McDonald's and pizza."
Nimmo said she would like to thank those families who helped her family while she was away at sea but because of the anonymous nature of the program, Nimmo may not ever find out who helped with more than 16 dinners.
"This program just goes to show you what kind of a Floris family we have here," Siple said. "After our roof collapsed, I think everyone saw how we could all come together."