Vallejo gets ‘together’ for Thanksgiving
by Thomas Gase
Some came from care centers. Some came from the streets. Some came in just not wanting to be alone.
However, one thing was clear — 337 Nebraska St. was considered home to all.
Vallejo Together, SolTrans and the Vallejo Moose Lodge No. 468 partnered together to provide free Thanksgiving lunches on Thursday afternoon. The day was filled with great food, conversations with friends and complete strangers, and a ton of entertainment, including the music from Jesse J, who crooned Frank Sinatra. There were also Ballet Folklórico de México dancers.
Francie McInerney MacMillan, a Vallejo Together community builder who helped with people on the five buses provided by SolTrans, did not have to look hard to know she had made a difference in someone’s life.
“I just got back from helping bus 18 people back to their rooms at a nursing center. They were so happy to have been here today,” MacMillan said. “I brought one lady, Beverly, back to her room. She was so well dressed. She held my hand briefly and I remember she had these beautiful red nails just done. She had recently suffered a stroke so she had trouble speaking, but she kept raising her hand as if she wanted to talk. Finally she wrote something down on a piece of paper and handed it me.”
What did the note say?
“Best. Day. Ever.”
“You feel really blessed when you see something like that,” MacMillan said, wiping away tears. “I mean … she had been watching the Ballet Folklórico and it was as if she was going to jump right out of her wheelchair she was so happy. There was another person in here, a vet from Vietnam named Jimmy. He was saying that nobody normally would talk to him, but he was telling me that he met another vet today and soon after that everyone was also talking to him and that everyone was nice.”
A big group of people came from Windsor Vallejo Care Center and were thrilled to just
be hanging out.
The enthusiastic kitchen staff takes a well-deserved break from helping out at the Vallejo Moose Lodge for a free Thanksgiving lunch given out to around 300 people on Thursday. (Thomas Gase — Times-Herald)
It’s a real fun day and everything is great,” said Joe Quirarte Sr. “The food, the entertainment, the conversations. It’s a completely fun day.”
“I love the cranberry sauce. We never get any of that at Windsor,” Dawn Miller said, with a laugh. “I also really liked the dancing and the singing.”
“I love all the entertainment, the food and even all the folks working here today. They are all interesting,” Betty Cooper said. “I love the dancing and it’s pretty great that everyone can come together today.”
Cooper’s daughter, Patricia Lawson, was there along with her husband, John Lawson.
“We were helping out with our church at Northgate and we learned we could help here today,” Patricia said. “When we knew my mom from the nursing home would be here, it only made sense to see her here today and also help out.”
John Lawson agreed.
“It’s all about helping out and giving back to the community,” John said.
De De Scrivner-Bosvego and Victoria Grace, both community builders with Vallejo Together, loved the aspect of touching people’s lives on Thanksgiving.
“I love seeing all the seniors interacting with each other,” Grace said. “We’re giving them a place to go when maybe they might not have a family right now.”
Grace said that about 300 people showed up — even more than last year.
“Every year we grow a little more,” Grace said. “We’re always adding things. This year we had more buses and more people helping out. We had more access for people with wheelchairs.”
“We all come together for this and it’s great, as we were just certified 501 C3 status (a corporation, trust, unincorporated association, or other type of organization exempt from federal income tax),” Scrivner-Bosvego said. “Due to that we’re going to get even more help in the future. But if feels wonderful to help out with all the entertainment, food and give all these people a place to go.
“It’s a great honor serving the senior community.”
The kitchen seemed to have enough food to make Julia Child jealous, with staff members constantly dishing out turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pie and much more.
Deanna Dickey, attending for her third year with Vallejo Together, helped by working with the kitchen staff. She contributed even more than food, helping draw from 15 to 20 people from Touro University thanks to her spreading the word.
“All of this feels great, because some of these people might not have anywhere else to go to,” Dickey said. “It’s amazing to do this and come down and be a part of this. It feels great because you know, some of these people may very well be dealing with loss, whether it’s divorce or a family member passing away. We help fill a void for them.”
Jesse J, a Sinatra singer who graduated from Benicia High in the 1950s, said it was a pleasure to sing for the crowd.
“It was nice because I get to give a performance that these people don’t really get
to see anymore,” the singer said. “I’ve done this for over 39 years and had over 2,500
gigs, but it’s a joy to see people like this and remember old times and days gone
by as they become acquainted with each other.”
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