Pharr Couple Active in Resort Kitchen Serving Thousands of Meals Every Season
by Rocio Villalobos
Ken and Sondra Regier feed thousands of hungry mouths every year at Tropic Star RV Resort, all on a volunteer basis.
The pair moved to the Pharr Resort four years ago from Kansas, and in addition to volunteering in the kitchen, they also work for the Resort, Sondra in the office and Ken in maintenance, at least 32 hours a week each.
“We stay busy, and it helps us keep active so we don’t get old and fat,” Ken joked.
During typical seasons, Ken coordinates the weekly Saturday-morning breakfasts, where men from the Resort volunteer to cook all-you-can-eat pancakes, sausage, and eggs for $5, raising money for the Resort.
“One of the gentlemen was getting older and decided he had enough so just turned it over to me,” Ken said. “Now I do all the meals during the season.”
From the breakfasts, another communal meal started--“Wine Not.” Each month, the dinner takes on a different theme and typically has 150 residents in attendance.
“Halloween would be Wine Not Scare Me, Thanksgiving, Let’s All Be Thankful,’” Sondra said. “Christmas last year was Jingle My Bells.”
For these meals, everyone lends a helping hand. Sondra said some of the fan-favorite meals are lasagna, Salisbury steak, and beef-roast sandwiches.
“Sometimes you can’t have too much help when cooking a big meal,” Ken said. “We couldn’t do it without volunteers, and that’s what’s so nice. So many people come in for fellowship.”
Through getting acquainted with everyone over their time in the Resort, the Regiers say their neighbors have become like family. And while friends now feel like family, they also have family members at the Resort.
“Her sister came down to visit and ended up buying a place,” Ken said. “I’ve got another sister who lives down the street.”
The meals for large gatherings have had to be adapted for safety reasons, but the Regiers and others have found creative ways to share food and memories with one another.
“We recently had a drive-in movie outside with popcorn and a big, 18-foot screen, and all the golf carts parked six feet apart in the parking lot,” Sondra said.
Ken is planning to start luncheons where people can pick up their plates through the kitchen’s window and enjoy their meals outside or at their homes.
They say they look forward to the day they can gather inside the Recreation Hall with all their friends and family, but for now, they are happy to adapt.
“We really enjoy it here; there are so many nice people everywhere,” Ken said. “I get a lot of calls from friends asking how it is down here, and I say, ‘Well, it’s a lot warmer to sit here in 70 or 80 degrees then 30-below in snow.’”