Palmetto Bay Council member David Singer and his wife, Gina Terry, have been saving the proceeds from breakfasts they serve at the American Legion Post 133 to buy the building a new roof.
Breakfasts, once a regular staple at the post, had been discontinued for lack of volunteers. When the couple started bringing breakfasts back, they noticed that the building’s roof, long overdue for repair, had deteriorated so badly that it leaked when it rained.
They agreed that all money from the breakfasts should go toward fixing the roof.
“We decided to kill two birds with one stone,” Council member Singer said. “Not only will we help the veterans return to their routine of going there for breakfast and hanging out with [their friends], but we’ll donate the food and, maybe after a year and a half, two years, they’ll have money towards the roof.”
The idea for the breakfasts stemmed from a friendship Terry, a teacher, developed with Jim Ross, a World War II veteran and former engineer.
Terry met Ross four years ago when she found him stopped in his car in the middle of the street, disoriented from dangerously low blood sugar. They kept in contact after she visited him in the hospital and helped him get his car back.
Ross, she learned, was alone. His wife had passed away, he had no children and his 92-year-old sister lived in New York. He recently had lost one of the few things he looked forward to — Sunday breakfasts at the American Legion.
“It touched my heart that he was all by himself and had nothing to look forward to,” said Terry, a former guardian ad litem and big sister for Big Brothers Big Sister.
Ross’ visits to the American Legion, she said, were as much for him to eat his first meal of the day as they were to socialize.
When Singer was elected to the Palmetto Bay Village Council, he asked Terry what charity work she would like to do. She said she wanted to bring breakfasts back to the American Legion.
“James really looks forward to it,” she said. “It’s really hard to get services for [our older community members], and you just don’t realize it.”
A year ago, the couple bought food, brought it to the post and began cooking and serving breakfast every other week — the second and fourth Sundays of the month. They were joined by their friend, Laurel Auerbacher, and their 10-year-old son, Jeremy.
As word spread that breakfasts were back, veterans and locals returned. Ross, who no longer drives, is often taken by Terry. As many as 70 people have come in to eat breakfast in a single morning, according to American Legion Post 133 First Vice Commander Tom Frank.
“It fluctuates every week,” Frank said. “People missed the breakfasts. It’s a way for them to get out and get a good meal at a very good price and for a good cause. Our roof has begun to show its age — asn’t been replaced since Hurricane Andrew — and before we have a major problem we’d like to get it replaced.”
On Sunday, Feb. 25, Mayor Eugene Flinn, Singer, the Village Council and local officials, including Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, held a ceremony at the post proclaiming the occasion Jim Ross Day.
Ross, who only expected to celebrate his 94th birthday, was overcome with emotion, Singer said.
“He was extremely overwhelmed,” Singer said. “It was a complete surprise. He was literally so choked up in emotion, it really gave everyone a wonderful feeling.”
Terry and Singer serve breakfasts at American Legion Post 133, 16401 SW 90 Ave., every second and fourth Sunday of the month from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Breakfast is open to the public, costs roughly $6 and may include pancakes, French toast, omelets, sausages, bacon, toast, orange juice and coffee. Direct donations toward the roof repair are also accepted.
For more information, call 305-253-2208.