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Otto: Asking for miracles to lift up others

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Published:   |   Updated: May 17, 2013 at 12:02 AM

All of us, at least those of us who believe in such things, have our own ideas about what goes into a miracle. For me, finishing one of these essays before collapsing hours later without being driven to drink constitutes at least a minor miracle.

For others, just having some money left over after paying the minimum amount on a bill is one. Some would say life is so tough that just making it through the day is a miracle. There are, of course, those who pray to some deity that the Rays’ closing pitcher will hold up for one or two innings, hoping for their own special miracle and assuming that the Almighty is a Rays’ fan.

I wouldn’t suggest that Morris Hintzman has a lock on miracles around here, but he does seem to have the right connections.

For starters, he managed to have about a thousand people up and in place before 7 a.m. for his annual “Bridgebuilders Breakfast” on behalf of Metropolitan Ministries on Wednesday morning at the A La Carte Pavilion. And that was with tables going for a thousand dollars apiece.

He persuaded a gaggle of politicians, ranging from Mayor Bob to city council and county commission members, as well as guest speaker Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, to get up before daylight and come to a breakfast, which was largely a little fruit and one of those plastic yogurt jobs.

Hintzman’s idea of a miracle is no secret. I’ve heard him talk about it since we stood next to each other on a street corner on a cold night three decades ago watching homeless men huddled around burning trash in a can. I didn’t realize at the time that his vision was to help entire families reclaim their lives, but it is a goal he has focused on ever since.

Today, nearly 50 families find safety and assistance inside the ministries’ family center. “I have never had a night,” he told the assembled multitude, “when every bed wasn’t filled. There is always a waiting list to get inside.”

That’s where Hintzman is trying to pull off his latest miracle. He’s even calling it “Miracle Place.” Drive up Florida Avenue and from the outside it appears to be a new, upscale apartment complex. It is a great deal more than that, with dining halls, school facilities and other amenities wrapped around a courtyard.

It will double the capacity for families and that won’t be a problem with more than 3,000 families looking for housing assistance last year alone.

So there was Hintzman, again making his plea. He needs funds to finish the project and, when it opens later this summer, it needs furniture and equipment.

Most of the speakers quoted scripture and there was one of those heart-tugging films. It also turns out that Schiano is much more than a football coach; he is an impressive spokesman for reaching out. I thought the mayor said it best: “As our city rises in a new economic boom, we need to lift those who need our assistance.”

The mayor is right and Metropolitan Ministries has an impressive track record. If you’d like to get more information, to chip in for some furniture for Morris, or to have someone show you around the new facilities, you can call (813) 209-1000.

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