If you live in the Tampa area, you have probably heard of Metropolitan Ministries. But for those of you who have not, Metropolitan Ministries is a non-profit organization that provides shelter and meals to struggling families within the Tampa area. This past year alone, the organization served 2,736,539 meals and provided 135,380 nights of secure shelter to over 70,000 families.
These accomplishments would not have been possible without the fantastic donors and volunteers who have assisted in serving meals, finding housing, and furthering education for those at risk or homeless. One of their well-known volunteers is Tony March, a man recently honored by The Tampa Bay Times as one of the most intriguing people in Tampa.
As a young boy, Tony experienced poverty, abuse, discrimination, and depression as he too was homeless. However, with assistance from his high school teachers, Tony found his passion for education. After he graduated from Howard University with a degree in Engineering, Tony earned multiple patents working for General Motors and even achieved the highest position available.
Eventually, Tony opened his own dealership, Tony March Buick, and donated much of his profits to local charities. But Tony wanted to take the driver’s seat in his efforts to help those in need, so in addition to helping other charities, he established the Tony March Foundation.
Likewise, Tony transformed his love for poker into an additional source for philanthropic giving. His self-taught poker skills recently made him over $500,000, which he used to support organizations that aid the homeless.
The Pay It Back Foundation focuses on supporting organizations that feed, shelter, and resocialize the homeless. After moving to Tampa in 2008, Tony discovered Metropolitan Ministries. He now volunteers hundreds of hours to cook meals, serve food, and wash dishes for families staying at the shelter.
Metropolitan Ministries offers various programs to help participants gain life skills to help them stay off the streets. Through these programs, Metropolitan Ministries teaches students how to interview, cook, and manage finances. Metropolitan Ministries also offers its own Culinary Arts School where anyone can learn to become a professional chef. After graduation, Metropolitan Ministries helps place their students at local well-paying restaurants.
Tony also works directly with Inside the Box, a catering company whose profits go to helping Metropolitan Ministries and provides daily meals to families in Tampa. Within the last year, over 2.5 million meals were served through their hunger-relief programs. Without Tony’s help, the organization would not have been able to achieve its goals and overcome the impacts of COVID19.
On March 9th, 2020, Tony shared his story on the Today Show, where he discussed his autobiography Paying It Backward. His memoir tells the story of how he overcame poverty and dedicated his life to philanthropy. During the interview, Tony explained what the phrase “paying it backward” meant: “When I sit at the top of the mountain, I don’t just sit there and enjoy my wealth,” said Tony. “I want to turn around, look down that mountain and pull up someone who may be someday will stand next to me at the top of the mountain.” As we can see by his success at the Pay It Backward Foundation, Tony March Foundation, and Metropolitan Ministries, Tony is pulling up thousands of people to join him atop that mountain.