Best Citizen Miami 2007 - Bill Swink
For more than twenty years, Bill Swink has been known among Coconut Grove's homeless population as the "Soup and Sandwich Man." He serves food every Friday afternoon (around 2:00) at the Dinner Key Marina docks by the shrimp boats (3400 Pan American Dr., Miami). He drives up in his white car, pops open the trunk, and sets up his portable soup kitchen. "He is beloved in the Grove," says one anonymous Grovite. "He does not have to do this. Everyone else tries to push us out, but Bill really cares." "You have to survive out here, and I love helping people," says Bill, who works as a lawyer by day, "but I'm a small piece of the puzzle. The ladies at [St. Raymond's Catholic Church] cook the food. The quality is so good because they pay for most of it out of their own pockets." He continues, "There are homeless people in the Grove, but there are pockets of homeless people all over Miami. If people who read this could get motivated in their communities, it would be easy to replicate what I am doing." Bill stops for a second and takes off his glasses. "Publix donates the pastries and fruits; other stores donate food. It really becomes a labor of love."Indeed the soup and sandwiches are always delicious. There are also pastries, fruit, and beverages. When the food is eaten the group cleans up the area and loads the table and coolers back into Bill's car. "Everyone talks about this homeless problem, but Bill makes a real difference," says one woman who lives on a boat. "It is not that hard to treat other people like human beings, with respect. That could easily be you begging for spare change."