TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Chely Figueroa as the third Lightning Community Hero of the year this morning at the Inside the Box Café & Catering, Metropolitan Ministries, located on North Tampa Street in downtown Tampa. Figueroa, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Metropolitan Ministries.
Figueroa was without food or shelter, hitting rock bottom before she turned her life around through the help of Metropolitan Ministries. She personally overcame hunger and homelessness to become self-sufficient, completing her GED and then, soon after, secured two jobs. Figueroa wants to do all that she can to ensure others never go hungry. Now she mentors and models the transformational behaviors needed for others to become successful like herself.
Figueroa's strong work ethic, experience in food service and personal triumph made her the ideal candidate to supervise the retail operations of the Inside the Box Café, Metropolitan Ministries innovative restaurant idea. For each meal that is purchased at Inside the Box Café, it provides a free meal to Metropolitan Ministries. The café is completely staffed by previously homeless individuals and assisted by four Metropolitan Ministries interns. Since opening in January 2012, the café has served more than 16,000 meals, providing 16,000 meals for hungry people. As supervisor of the café, Figueroa has trained more than a dozen homeless clients with skills that will help with future employment.