For the Martin Family, Tee’s Food Pantry is a labor of love for those in need
By Charles Moseley
The late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered one of many memorable speeches from the pulpit of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga. on Feb. 4, 1968. The speech was entitled, “The Drum Major Instinct.” A quote taken from Dr. King’s sermon if you will encourages ordinary people through faith to aspire to do extradinary things.
“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve… You only need a heart full of grace,” said Dr. King.
Who knew at the time, how powerful two sentences consisting of 16 words could be? Dr. King’s definition of greatness reflects the spirit of what Dr. King meant. Teresa Martin and her family on the surface might appear to be just another ordinary family, but upon closer inspection reveals a family that has faced adversity yet still, through faith, has made an impact on the lives of people by sharing and caring about those in need.
Although it was never easy and they never had a lot, Martin and her husband Richard worked hard together to raise seven children here in Fort Lauderdale.
The loving couple and family were a close knit bunch who had to rely on their faith in God, would have that faith put to the ultimate test after a tragic event occurred which would change their lives forever.
It’s hard to imagine the pain the Martins experienced when their 32-year-old daughter, Tonika Clark was shot twice in what law enforcement officials deemed to be a result of a road rage incident. The incident occurred on the night of Nov. 22, 2013, as a group of passengers, including Clark traveled on the Florida Turnpike, according to an investigation conducted by the Florida Highway Patrol.
Investigators concluded that the shots were fired at the vehicle Clark was riding in when it slowed down to allow another vehicle loaded with other family members and friends to catch up. Shortly thereafter, a car behind them pulled up and shots were fired, resulting in Clark sustaining two life threatening bullet wounds. Fortunately, she survived but the suspected shooter has yet to be apprehended.
Clark made a miraculous recovery and even appeared along with law enforcement authorities to issue a statement to the perpetrators of the crime, six weeks after the road rage incident occurred.
“If you have any kind of a conscience, just turn yourself in,” said Tonika Clark.
Martin recalled the incident and offered her family’s perspective on the incident. “My daughter did survive the shooting. The person was never caught. One of the bullets is still fragmented in her stomach. We have not been able to afford an attorney to have someone look further into it, but we thank God she is alive. It was our pastor that was able to pray us through questions that the doctors were unable to give,” said Martin.
Martin and her family some-how found the strength to move on and were inspired by faith to find a way to show their faith in God by helping others by starting Tee’s Food Pantry.
“Many times in our lives, it’s not the rich that pour out blessings on families that need help, but it’s the one’s that can relate to extend a helping hand. It is the small things in life that mean the most sometimes. Tee’s food pantry currently operates from the home, but in the near future I am looking to get grants or scholarships to help get a building to continue to serve South Florida,” said Mar-tin.
According to Martin, the operation provides food to those who have a need. They operate seven days a week and also pro-vide hot meals in addition to grocery items, and give out food baskets during Thanksgiving and gifts during Christmas. Everyone in the family is involved in some shape or fashion.
“My family and I operate many family businesses to help with funds. Melissa and Samuel St. Fleur own a trash and clean out preservations. Tonika Clark owns a tax, book-keeping, and cleaning business. Marlo Clark has a scrap business. Mark Clark does maintenance. Derick Clark transports multiple services. Antonial Walker does remodeling work. Christine Clark does hair and nails; she is also a medical researcher. It has not always been easy, but God knows the heart. Prayer changes things. My church mother and father, Apostle Lucille Richardson and Bishop Perry Richardson, taught me to be grounded and rooted in the Lord.”
The Martins attend Yoke Breakers International Ministries, 6101 N.W. 31. St, Mar-gate, Fla.
In addition to the church, Martin cited the following people and organizations which have been helpful to her organization in the past: Susan Walsh (Peter Glenn), Peter Glenn/Green Mountain Corp; IGM Scrap Metal, Rosa Lee Smith & Melvina Smith, Annette Spencer, and Antoinette Shepard.
“I am always seeking donations of clothing, shoes, pack-aged or canned foods or fruits, cash, anything that is of no use to you anymore. Remember, ‘one man’s trash is another’s man treasure’,” added Martin.
For those who would like to make a donation or those who are in need of assistance you may contact Tee’s Food Pantry at firstname.lastname@example.org (954) 486-1819 – home or (954) 479-1306- cell.