On Sunday, Ward 4 City Councilman Edward Brady and his team at The Thirsty Beaver prepared and served food during their ninth annual Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless.
This community event is hosted at Praise Tabernacle Church, located at 330 Park Ave., and is held in collaboration with the Rhode Island Dream Center and the MAE Organization for The Homeless.
More than 250 people were bused in to enjoy the holiday meal. They also received clothing donations and haircuts from local volunteers, including employees of Details Barbershop in Cranston and other barbershops and salons throughout the state.
Additionally, thanks to community support, more than 350 winter survival backpacks were given to guests. Each backpack includes hats, scarves, gloves, toiletries, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and other essential items. They were pre-packed by volunteers prior to the event.
“Many families, including my own, look forward to the holidays every year because it is a time we all come together and enjoy delicious food, laughs and memories,” Brady said. “When we started volunteering and helping fund these Hope for the Homeless dinners nine year ago, we certainly understood that some families did not have the same luxuries as others and many people in need didn’t have anywhere to go. The smiles we have received when handing someone a warm plate of food, the hugs, and the genuine ‘thank yous’ are truly what drives us to continue to host these events year in and year out, and we are thankful we are in a position to do so.”
Executive chef Andrea Leonardo led the volunteer effort with Steven Brady and collaborating businesses such as Jimmy Burchfield Law, which donated bread with Campanella’s Restaurant. Warwick Ice Cream donated ice cream, Mike Sepe and Richard Santamaria donated pies, Council President Mike Farina donated cookies, The District donated pizzas, and MAE Organization brought in clothes and toiletries with Body Rock Gym.
“MAE Organization’s mission is to support and empower the homeless and underserved population in the healing of mental health and opioid addiction through holistic programs,” said Martinha Javid, the organization’s founder.
There were more than 35 volunteers in attendance, including Mayor Allan Fung and many members of the Cranston City Council.
“Giving back to the community is an amazing feeling. For me, I like helping with the event because even one kind act can help to transform someone’s day. Hopefully that can continue on to the next person,” chef Andrea Leaonardo said.
She added: “I prepare enough food to feed 300 to 400 people. Having the extra food and knowing it can be used later in the night to feed more from the truck is a good feeling. Last year we were able to get 90 percent of our food donated. I’m hoping for the same if not more for this year.”
PACKED WITH CARE:
Volunteers from the community came together to help the Rhode Island Dream Center to fulfill the needs of the local homeless population. Each person who attended the Hope for the Homeless Thanksgiving Dinner received a Winter Survival Backpack which included items such as scarves, hats, socks, toiletries, etc. 350 were distributed and the remaining backpacks will go directly to the homeless during upcoming gatherings. (Herald photos by Steve Popiel) 2
PROVIDING SOME WARMTH:
During the Thanksgiving dinner, volunteers from the MAE Organization for the Homeless set up tables with clothing, accessories and footwear for anyone in need.
From left, Christina Robert, president of the MAE Organization; Martinha Javid, founder of the MAE Organization; Allen Pangburn, pastor of Praise Tabernacle Church; Ed Brady, co-owner of Dig In Dining Restaurant Group; and Sofia Ledoux, Miss Rhode Island Teen USA, share a moment together during the dinner. 4
FIRST IN LINE:
Guests at dinner were treated to seasonal delights. Volunteers from the community helped to feed approximately 350 people that day.