After being with Pinellas Hope from its start, beloved night shift employee, Lloyd Diez, called it quits! We will forever be grateful to Lloyd – and his lovely girlfriend, Durbin Lea, who accepted his “Second Shift” hours all this time – for his years of loving service to the residents of Pinellas Hope.
Lloyd retired citing his “very mixed feelings” on August 4th, saying “after working since the age of 11, starting with selling peaches at a gas station in Georgia, it is time for me to retire.” And what does a man who meant so much to his Pinellas Hope family – residents and colleagues alike – do with this new found free time? According to Lloyd, he’s going to enjoy “traveling, playing pool, taking an electronics course, and most importantly spending time with my girlfriend and family.”
During his 7 ½ years at Pinellas Hope, Lloyd interacted at one time or another with nearly all of the nearly 7,000 residents that have walked through the gates of the renowned homeless shelter located in Clearwater, Florida. In reflecting on the satisfaction his calling brought him, Lloyd echoed the sentiments of many others, saying “I can’t say how many thousands of clients I’ve met in my time at Pinellas Hope. But it has given me much satisfaction to know that I helped some of them when they were in need.”
However, like those he leaves behind to continue this labor of love, Lloyd left no doubt on the benefit that also accrues to those who work to help those in need: “The human spirit is amazing and I have been blessed to see it firsthand. That says it all, and we at Catholic Charities say, ‘Thank you, good luck and may God bless you, Lloyd!’
Pinellas Hope experience another departure – albeit much sadder – of a long-time employee. George Guthrie, who started as a volunteer from Day one at Pinellas Hope, passed away after a courageous battle with cancer on August 15th. George, a United States Marine Corps veteran and beloved husband of Mary Ann for 40 years, father of two sons (Thomas and Alex), and brother of Nancy, and Heath, so loved Pinellas Hope that soon after he started there, he became a full-time employee, often showing up to help out on his free time.
George was affectionately known as ‘Sheep Dog’ for his shepherd-like leadership of the residents of Pinellas Hope. Everyone knew, respected, and loved George. His ever-present smile was like a beacon of light in a dark cloud for the residents who were obviously down on their luck. In manning the front desk at Pinellas Hope, ‘Sheep Dog’ mixed a gentle and understanding demeanor with the firm love of a parent – no doubt developed in part from his time in the military – to his service to the residents. He knew when to listen, when to support and sympathize, but also when to provide tough love and hold people accountable to themselves and the camp rules put in place for their benefit. For this, according to Dave Deck, “all the residents loved him!”
Deck, himself a long-time employee of Pinellas Hope, and self-described “good friend”, who went fishing with George on his prized boat, xxxxx, unequivocally stated “all the residents loved him” and that George was always “willing to help everybody” and “would do anything for anybody.” Deck, a sportsman in his own right, said George was an outdoorsman who loved fishing, hunting, boating, and especially doing those activities with his two adult sons, who often came to town from Colorado to spend time with their father. Describing what ‘Sheep Dog’ loved best about Pinellas Hope, Deck stated “he loved it; he loved helping people, he loved helping everybody here.” This passion led him to report to work even when he didn’t feel his best. On the days the cancer or his treatment wore on him, Deck said George didn’t let it show: “It never got him down or stopped him from smiling.” ‘Sheep Dog’ was well known for his ever-present smile!”
Long-time front desk partner, Peggy Crain, said of George, “I just loved him. I really loved him.” She said that only did she love him, but that he “was revered” at Pinellas Hope. She said that while he loved Pinellas Hope, his wife, Mary Ann, “was the love of his life” even after forty years of marriage! Crain echoed Deck’s thoughts about George’s love of the outdoor: “He loved scuba diving; it was his passion. He loved spear fishing with his family. They’d go out on his beautiful boat.” She also spoke about his incredibly positive nature, saying, “He was always laughing and joking.” Crain said, while he loved the residents and would do anything to help them, he stopped short of allowing them to take advantage of him, other residents, or break camp rules. She said “he was patient, kind, and would listen and help them out, but he knew when to be firm.” She attributed the latter quality to his military training and service. In closing, Crain said he loved Pinellas Hope so much that even while ill, “he stayed here with us until he just couldn’t do it anymore.”