A retired UCF administrative assistant, who now manages an Osceola County food pantry that helps 25,000 people a year, was recently chosen as her community’s Neighborhood Hero.

Sheila Beegan Anderson worked 17 years at UCF before retiring in 2008, and now oversees the St. Rose of Lima Food Pantry in Solivita, which is part of the 55,000-resident Poinciana community southwest of Kissimmee. 

“Sheila was a tireless worker and first-rate human being,” said Dean McFall, retired associate vice president for University Relations and director of Public Affairs, who was her boss when she retired. “She was always goal-focused and would accomplish the most difficult jobs by going around, under or over any barriers in her way, displaying grace and humility throughout.”

Anderson manages 100 volunteers to help distribute frozen meat, canned goods, rice and other USDA items to those in need. When Anderson retired, she focused her organizational skills on the community. As volunteer secretary for the parish office, she said she met people who came for help in increasing numbers, so she started the food pantry in a garage.

Anderson said she has a passion for the project because she knows what it’s like to be in need.

“My mom was an Irish immigrant and worked so hard,” she said. “We were lucky if we had meat once a week but Mom always took me to mail packages and money to Ireland. It was a struggle and I don’t know how she survived.”