Hospitality Center gives reasons to give thanks for the holiday

Published 10:18 am Friday, November 25, 2016

Many individuals were served meals Thanksgiving Day as the Hospitality Center in Port Arthur opened its doors once again to any and all in need.

Christina Green, director of the Center, was present to help organize volunteers and admit people into the Center. She has been working at the Center for 12 years.

“It’s a really good feeling,” Green said of helping others.

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“A lot of them are on a fixed income, especially the elderly. (So) we get people who we see regularly, and if one day they don’t show up, we get worried about them. We’re a family here.”

Green remarked on some of the challenges for the Center.

“It’s just getting the volunteers,” Green said. “I want everyone to volunteer.”

In some instances, however, it appeared that recruiting more volunteers could be a very real possibility — at least when speaking of her 8-year-old daughter.

“I hear her talking about this place all the time — ‘We cook anything here,’ ‘We help anyone here’…” Green said. “She’s already said she wants to run the place.”

Green made special mention of St. Anne Catholic School in Beaumont.

“They’re wonderful. The kids in St. Anne’s, the fifth graders, harvested the sweet potatoes that were planted in the Giving Fields. They’re the same ones we’re using in ours meals.”

Green said the students were “so excited” about the project.

Green estimated that the Center goes through 150 turkeys per Thanksgiving holiday.

“We’ve already gone through 95 in the first 30 minutes,” she said.

In another part of the kitchen, Sherry Deadle was helping with chores. Deadle has been volunteering at the Hospitality Center for eight years.

“There was a void in my life that needed filling,” she said.

Deadle said that it was a very good feeling to help people.

Deadle usually works in the kitchen or on the line, including other miscellaneous duties.

“It’s great to see so many people get help,” she said.

Gerald Burton warms up a dressing for people waiting in line at the Hospitality Center. (Lorenzo Salinas/The News)

Gerald Burton warms up a dressing for people waiting in line at the Hospitality Center. (Lorenzo Salinas/The News)

Near the industrial ovens, Gerald Burton and Brett Smith were busy getting more meals ready for people waiting in line.

Among other duties, Burton cut up and deboned the turkeys and Smith helped cook the turkeys over an open grill outside.

“We’ve gone through at least 30 of them from 7 to 8:30 (a.m.),” Burton said about preparing and cooking them. “It’s the quickest we’ve ever done it.”

“That doesn’t even count the (turkeys) that other groups have donated,” Smith said.

Both Burton and Smith spoke of the power that volunteering could have on individuals.

“When we invite people to come help us, it changes their lives,” Burton said. “Some even bring their kids.”

“Christina runs a heck of a program,” Smith said. “There are bags of food, toiletries and toys for people to take with them. It’s a win-win situation.”

At least one volunteer was finishing up his work for the day. Bobby Abraham was collecting his things and preparing to leave.

Abraham has worked with and volunteered at the Hospitality Center for 29 years.

“I come to help people,” Abraham said. “A friend told me about it and I came to help.”

Abraham performs a number of duties at the Center, including cleaning, serving, washing dishes and bringing in donations.

“It makes me feel good,” Abraham said of helping people.