Pensacola’s Sylvia Tisdale hikes Mount Kilimanjaro to help the hungry

When Sylvia Tisdalefounder and pastor of Epps Christian Ministriesturned 70 last October, she had accomplished all the goals she wanted in life.

Her food bank ministry was well established, her children and grandchildren were successful, so she didn’t know where to turn.

“When I turned 70, I felt like it was the end for me,” Tisdale said. “I actually went to my door and thought my chariot was coming to pick me up like Elijah and when my chariot didn’t come to pick me up I was like, ‘OK, what now Lord? “”

It was then that she later received a call from her daughter, Ruth, who told her she was going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro – that this opportunity was the closest she was going to reach heaven. on Earth and that she wanted to take him away.

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Pastor Sylvia Tisdale of Epps Christian Center prepares for her upcoming hike to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro wearing her hiking boots and backpack while walking the Stairmaster on Monday as part of her daily training routine at Pensacola.

Now Tisdale will embark on a journey to climb Africa’s tallest mountain from June 8-15.

Ruth Tisdale has traveled to over 55 countries and inherited her adventurous lifestyle from her mother. For Ruth, pushing herself to the limit by doing extreme things like skydiving and rock climbing helps her push herself to reach the next goal and never be complacent. Her favorite saying is “You can’t pour out of an empty glass”, and although her mother poured out a lot in the community, Ruth felt like no one poured into her mother’s glass.

“She was kind of struggling with those senses, that feeling of depression. She herself was empty,” Rush said of her mother. “And even though she continued to give to the community, like there was a part of her that was empty and needed to be filled. And I think that adventure really filled her cup again and she has things to look forward to.”

Pastor Sylvia Tisdale speaks Monday at the Epps Christian Center in Pensacola about her upcoming hike to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Tisdale has spent years helping people in her community of Brownsville with food, identification, finding jobs and other services. But what she wanted to do was take the opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for a larger cause.

“The lack of food security in the families required someone to direct that or instigate that, and then the funds to get food to that area were lacking,” Tisdale said. “So I said, well, let’s incorporate two reasons for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. One is to raise awareness of food insecurity in this area, this area being the poorest area in Escambia County, and the second, to provide funds to help supply this area’s need.”

In the county, 1 in 5 people live below the poverty line, 54.2% of children live below the poverty line, 75% of children are entitled to a free or reduced lunch, and 62% of county residents d ‘Escambia live in food deserts, which are neighborhoods with little or no access to affordable or healthy food.

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Tisdale and Epps Christian Center help alleviate this situation by feeding 400 families, serving 200 breakfasts, distributing approximately 3,000 cups of coffee per week, and serving more than 6,000 people per month.

Tisdale has started a GoFundMe with a goal of $25,000 to help fill their storage containers to continue feeding the hungry in Brownsville and hopes to continue with whatever donations she can raise through her climb.

Pastor Sylvia Tisdale speaks Monday at the Epps Christian Center in Pensacola about her upcoming hike to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

The trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is 19,341 feet and will take them eight days and seven nights. Tisdale and her daughter will be accompanied by her experts who have taken people to the top before and will accompany the family along the way.

Tisdale also trained every day to prepare for her ascent. She started training in January and now goes to the gym every day for two hours. For her, even when she returns home, the gym keeps “calling her” and motivates her to continue staying in shape.

“I can tell you that was the greatest thing that could have happened to me,” Tisdale said. “Because mentally I feel really good. I have more energy than before. Physically I feel my body is in better shape and spiritually I feel, because of the time spent in the gym and meditating, I feel really great about it. And so I feel ready mentally, physically, and spiritually. And it amazes me that all these 70 years of my life, I’ve never worked out in the gym.

The new adventure of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and giving back to her community is something Tisdale said she hopes to inspire others. That no matter how young or old you are, there is always meaning in life and we need to get up and go find it instead of sitting still.

“It impacts, inspires and motivates so many people because people in their 70s think life is over for them and they, like me, have potentially given up. And then people under 70 think that, ‘ Oh, I can’t do anything,” Tisdale said. “And now people under 70 will be like, ‘Well, if she can do it, I know I can do it,’ and then people over 70 say, “If she can do it, I can do it.” There is life, age is just a number.”

To donate to Sylvia Tisdale’s fundraiser for Climbing To End Hunger in Escambia County! go to her GoFundMe.

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