Food And Drinks

The United Methodist Church at St. Luke gives nourishment – and hope – to the Orlando performing arts community – Central Florida News – Health – Intersection


Volunteers distribute groceries to cars at the United Methodist Church in St. Luke. Photo: Cami Miller

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When the theme parks closed last year, it affected the livelihoods of tens of thousands of theater performers, according to the United Methodist Church of St. Luke website.

Many full-time artists, clients, designers, character actors, technicians, and managers have been on leave or have been laid off entirely. The Actors Equity Association According to 720 of their 780 Disney employees, they were laid off in late October. That is around 92%.

Steve MacKinnon, St. Luke’s Artistic Director and Performer Cami Miller to join overlap to talk about Supporting HEARTS, the Church’s initiative to bring meals and hope to the arts community in central Florida.

St. Luke’s Artistic Director Steve MacKinnon and performer Alina Alcántara distribute food. Photo: Cami Miller

Every Tuesday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., members of the performing arts community can go to church and pick up products, ready-made meals, and bread, depending on availability. The event also features a variety of live entertainment, from musicians to stilt walkers to actors.

According to MacKinnon, the Church wanted to provide an experience of hope, joy, and connectedness.

“We really wanted this not to be just a food distribution because we knew the pain everyone was living in,” he says. “So from the start we made a commitment to providing live entertainment and reaching people who, as you know, had no way of performing at all.”

Miller says she lost her job at Disney after working there for 17 years. After receiving food for the first week, she said she wanted to find a way to give something back.

“I really thought, what can I do during this pandemic? during this crisis? “She says,” I’ve always been taught that the best gift you can give is yourself and your time. “

Cami Miller says she brings encouraging messages to her car for volunteers and guests. Photo: Cami Miller

Miller says she drove through with a different message on her car every week to thank the volunteers. She says she then turned to MacKinnon to ask if there was anything else she could do and he said, “Just come over.”

Miller now goes to the event every week to greet the cars and check in at everyone.

According to MacKinnon, a group of Orlando improvisation actors set up their own break room outside.

“They started to stay in the shade in the parking lot and take out their garden chairs. They created their own green room in the driveway and got in touch with … their family, who they worked with every day and who they didn’t have. I haven’t seen them for months and they reconnected and experienced this family once a week, ”he says.

Orlando actors gather in an outdoor green space. Photo: Cami Miller

According to MacKinnon, the church plans to continue the event as long as possible.

“We are determined to hold on to it, hopefully not for another year,” he says. “Hopefully people, you know, get called back to work.”

Miller says she has hope that the theme park performers will return to the parks.

“The theme parks are just more interesting with actors,” she says. “There are people who can’t drive fast and they need to have something for … the elderly and children with special needs.”

“People are the ones who bring the magic,” says MacKinnon. “Otherwise it’s just roller coasters and painted walls … It’s the people who bring magic to life.”

Performer Cami Miller welcomes the guests to the United Methodist Church’s “Supporting HEARTS” event in St. Luke. Photo: Cami Miller


Janet Smith