TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — For more than a decade, Ann Nash served up meals to HIV and AIDS patients at the Epic Empath Francis House campus in Tampa.
She found her way there as a volunteer after receiving a crushing medical blow. Ann was diagnosed with HIV in 1989.
“I was infected by my husband and back then you couldn’t tell anybody. If you told anybody you were liable to get burned out of your home, totally shunned by the neighbors. It was a fearful time,” Nash said.
Nash took care of her husband for two years before he died from AIDS complications, and she journeyed into the Catholic church looking for solace. That’s when she found out about the Francis House in Tampa.
There was a volunteer opportunity to work in the kitchen and Nash realized that helping others with the disease would help her find strength and move forward in life.
“I know what they are living with, and know how it affects them, so I figured I can volunteer a few hours of week,” she said.
A few hours a week turned into five days a week, serving up two meals a day.
Nash became so good at her volunteering that Francis House offered her a full-time job as a chef.
But Nash did more than cook meals. She used her position in the kitchen to help people struggling with HIV and AIDS.
“My sole goal, was to make a difference to them, to show them they didn’t have to curl up and wait to die. That there was a life out there that they could enjoy living, that there were things they could do, I preach that to this day,” said Nash.
Ann Nash just turned in her apron and has officially retired, but will continue to drop by the Francis House Campus to be a GR8 Inspiration for those struggling with illness.