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Homeless, Under-housed receive Thanksgiving Dinner


By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent


Toledo’s Dept. of Neighborhoods staff welcomed the hungry, homeless, and under-housed to an early Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings during its annual luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 at Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.

Cindy Geronimo and Linda Alvarado-Arce


Toledo city government staff served the homeless and less fortunate each year, donating their time and talents. Cindy Geronimo, who recently joined the Dept. of Neighborhoods as commissioner of code enforcement from the Lucas County Land Bank, and Linda Alvarado-Arce, executive director of the Board of Community Relations, were among those who participated.


“I love doing it. I've always liked doing it,” said Ms. Alvarado-Arce, who started working the luncheon when she first joined the city a few years ago. “I enjoy seeing their faces. I enjoy talking to them. I do enjoy just being part of it, because it's well-organized and the food is always really good.”


“I thought it really showed the compassion that the community has, being able to reach out and put something like this together,” said Ms. Geronimo. “It's something they take a lot of pride in and I told the staff afterward how proud I was. A lot of their own passion goes into this. I had never really experienced the homeless luncheon.”


An estimated 1,000 people attended the luncheon, which also provided take-home meals so those less fortunate could rely on another well-balanced meal later. Attendees were brought by bus from homeless shelters and various programs throughout the city.


The annual homeless holiday luncheon is partially paid for by taxpayers through the city's Community Development Block Grant and Emergency Solutions Grant programs, which are funded by the federal government. Donations from private-sector businesses and community partners (homeless service providers, food banks, and food kitchens) pay the rest of the cost. The church donated use of the space and provided volunteers to assist with the luncheon.


Participants also had the opportunity to visit a mobile health clinic and other health and wellness service providers for health screenings and service referrals. Paul Mitchell Salon Stylists volunteered their time to provide free haircuts and manicures.


“It's a holistic approach to try to meet their basic needs," said Ms. Alvarado-Arce. "I enjoy doing it, I believe in it, and I'm going to do it whether it's part of my work day or not.”


“I think everyone needs to be reminded that people do care, that there is help out there and that even little things matter,” said Ms. Geronimo. “Every day, every gesture means something. It's all about hope. That luncheon is more than a warm meal. The opportunity to get a haircut, get a manicure—it's just a gesture that gives somebody hope to go on, to just keep hanging on, knowing there are people that care and there's support for them.”

Copyright © 1989 to 2014 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11/25/14 16:49:41 -0800.




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