In what is fast becoming one of our favorite holiday traditions, we held our 3rd annual Thanksgiving dinner for our homeless neighbors on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Held once again in the beautiful Pepco-Edison Place Art Gallery, more than 250 men and women who are homeless enjoyed a delicious meal served by more than 80 volunteers.
The room looked stunning, full of tables with white tablecloths and flowers surrounded by the artwork from clients of the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind nonprofit currently adorning the art gallery. The evening was filled with a sense of community, the interaction as volunteers and diners took time to get to know each other, tapping into what Pope Francis calls “a culture of encounter.”
Many volunteers come from Pepco, who provided the beautiful space as well. Exelon Corporation donated winter coats that each guest could take after dinner.
The meal itself, prepared by our own Catholic Charities Enterprises kitchen, was a delicious traditional Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, collard greens, cranberry sauce, rolls and pie for dessert. A trio of volunteers played dinner music quietly in the background as Father John moved from table to table, checking in on each guest and spending time laughing and talking.
Robert, one of our guests at dinner, sat with a pleasant glow around him after the meal. He raved about the food and talked about how good it all was. Then he talked about how he had lost both his wife and his daughter within a year of each other. He and his wife had been discussing retirement, and the tragic loss of his family sent him into a spiral that left him on the street. The meal had been a pleasant break for him from everything going on in his life.
“Coming together as a community on nights like tonight is so important for all of us,” said Father John. “We all need to be reminded how much we have in common, how much God calls us to encounter each other and to know the pain and happiness of someone else. I really love this dinner.”
Volunteer this Month:
Angel Tree: More than 800 kids in Catholic Charities programs and the community might not have a gift to open on Christmas without your help. Shopping for someone else is a great way to keep the Christmas spirit strong.
SHARE Food Network: Join us at our warehouse next month to help spread Christmas cheer and buy a food package to help your neighbors! Just be ready to laugh a lot.
Holiday Helpers: Many of our programs do a Christmas gift donation and they could use some extra hands. Here’s a great chance to meetmany of the people we help.