Updated: May 28
“Robert! I can’t believe you’re here! It’s been a year since I’ve seen you!” cried a volunteer as she welcomed a man into the Emmaus Soup Kitchen on a snowy afternoon.
“I wouldn’t miss having Thanksgiving dinner with all of you,” the man said, laughing.
This kind of conversation will be happening in family homes across the country Thanksgiving Day, and it was not at all out of place at the soup kitchen’s early Thanksgiving dinner, held on November 17.
Emmaus has served a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, a week before the actual holiday, because many local restaurants generously offer free meals to those in need on the holiday itself. This year the meal was served by a team of volunteers from Our Lady of Peace Parish, coordinated by Darrell Meyers, who has been a regular at Emmaus for 23 years.
“Emmaus is grateful for all that you do for us,” Sister Mary Miller, Director of Emmaus, said to the volunteers before their shift. “We thank God that you’re here and that you bless us and our guests with your smiles, your kindness, and your attentiveness.”
Nearly 150 guests came to the soup kitchen for the Thanksgiving meal, braving heavy snowfall and bitter temperatures. The crowd included people who come every night, as well as those like Robert, who were visiting after long absences, and a few who were new to Emmaus.
As one guest was leaving after the meal, he said to a volunteer, “You know, the food wasn’t good.” Then, with a smile, he said, “It was fabulous! Thank you!”
A tasty, filling meal, a safe refuge from the harsh weather, and an environment where guests are welcomed, remembered, and comfortable with those who serve them: Emmaus provides all this on a regular basis, but it seems especially important as the holiday season begins.
Photo: A guest enjoys all sorts of turkeys!
Slideshow: Volunteers, Hope and Dick Ruedy; The festive atmosphere is set; Emmaus Social Worker, Rita Scrimenti with Frank from the City Mission; Sister Rosanne and Sister Val; Volunteers, Darrell Meyers and Corky Young; A guest comes in out of the snow; Darrell Meyers (second from right) with his volunteer crew