BRISTOL – As part of a 25-year family tradition, the Smith family prepared a Thanksgiving breakfast for residents at the St. Vincent De Paul Mission of Bristol Homeless Outreach Thursday.
“My mom and dad started the tradition and used to come down every week throughout the whole year and cook for the men in the shelter,” said Sue Webster. “They’d make dinner in the morning and heat it up again at night. They also started to do a Thanksgiving feast that they would do at lunchtime.”
About 15 years into the tradition, the family switched because visitors would leave the shelter during the day and so a breakfast was started.
The family prepared a meal for around 20 individuals Thursday with eggs, sausage, pancakes, potato cuts and more.
“I think it’s great to give back to our own community and Bristol is a strong community. Mom has lived in Bristol her whole life so it’s just great to be able to be in a position where we can give back,” said Webster.
Mary Smith, tradition founder, said she and her husband had been active helping on holidays with various organizations on days like Christmas and Thanksgiving through the years. Those helping during the breakfast included Holly Webster, Rich Smith, Tim Webster, Sue Webster and Mary.
“It’s been great and the staff here has been wonderful along with their new director,” said Smith. “I have the time and I especially love the people here and the way they’re being treated.”
Ray Rodriguez, St. Vincent’s night monitor, said he was thankful to be able to work with the residents at the outreach.
“I like giving back to the community so I do my best to help everybody here,” he said. “I’m thankful for being alive. I was in their position at a time, a few years back. I was homeless for a year with two of my kids. I was not here, but I was in another shelter. I’m grateful to be alive and have my family and to work with people (at the shelter) because there are times when they don’t have a family.”
Donna Callahan, St. Vincent resident, said she was thankful because four months ago she was sleeping behind a hotel with no bedding and two shopping carts of everything she had.
‘I’m thankful I’m not there,” she said. “Having never been homeless before, it was shocking. I was scared and tired. I’m very grateful.”
Stacie LaRosa said she had been in a domestic violence shelter prior to being at St. Vincent and was now on the road to independence.
“I’m thankful I’m not on the street,” she said. “I got my voucher for my housing and I got some cash so I can pay my electric bill in my new apartment. Now that I have that, I can be able to pay my bill, so I’m thankful for that.”