The day before Thanksgiving, Kwame Alleyne, the Cupboard Coordinator at Bridgeway, shared generous Thanksgiving meals with my nonprofit, People Encouraging People. Our clients experience persistent and chronic mental illness and all live far below the poverty line. Many are homeless and suffering from alcohol or drug-related illnesses.
Delivering these Thanksgiving meals was so much fun because we got to surprise families who were not expecting anything at all! It was a joy to share in their happiness when we showed up with the turkey and fixings. But it was their response to our gift that inspired me and gave me just a little more hope this season.
Blythe, a man who has been homeless for many years, had just moved into an apartment earlier in the month. His new place is near the same homeless camp where he was formerly living. When he saw his Thanksgiving meal, he led us over to the camp, where we found four of his friends, and he invited them to his apartment for dinner on Thanksgiving.
Two women also decided to share their meal with other homeless friends. Another women we visited, Annette, invited three of her neighbors over to eat together. One gentleman considered the people who had been helping him over the past year, and he decided to host the meal for them. A man named Mike took his dinner to his family’s house and shared Thanksgiving together. Four of our clients - Willie, Nick, Denise, and Michael - live together in a house, and they were so happy to be able to share this Thanksgiving meal together.
Many of these families are accustomed to receiving what they consider to be “hand outs,” but this gift from Bridgeway offered them the opportunity to be generous as well. The exchange fostered dignity, nurtured their self-esteem, and encouraged community among their friends, family, and neighbors. It was truly a wonderful and humbling experience to be a part of the meal deliveries this year, and I’m thankful to Bridgeway for allowing us to surprise our clients with such a gift this year. Your generosity was multiplied as they shared with others.