The spirit of volunteerism was much in evidence on Thanksgiving at a west side hunger center, where hundreds of people sought and received a Thanksgiving Day meal. 90.3 WCPN's Bill Rice paid a visit, and prepared this report.
BR- About five or six dozen of Cleveland's hungry are seated in the ground floor meal room at St. Augustus Church in Tremont, patiently waiting and talking amongst each other while volunteers serve up turkey dinners. Sister Corita Ambro is Director of the St. Augustine Hunger Center, one of the largest hunger centers in the city. She says this is just one of several free Thanksgiving meals the Center is coordinating throughout the area.
Corita Ambro- This facility, we're also serving at the Korean Church, King Kennedy - I'm trying to remember them all and not doing so well.
BR- About 70 volunteers have turned out at St. Augustine's to set places and serve meals. Paul Lynn is in from Denver for the holiday visiting his mother. He says this is really his first time volunteering, and he feels pretty good about it.
Paul Lynn- Where I'm from things are quite good in the economy, and everything about the whole area seems to be pretty good lifestyle, and to come here and kind of wake up to the realities of life and what's really going on in the inner cities is a very good experience for me - humbling, I guess.
BR- Lynn joins other volunteers filing through the cafeteria-style line to pick up the meals and move them out to the tables. Others fill plates with food, while still others direct traffic. Teenager Beth Gravelis has traveled here with her mother from Medina.
Beth Gravelis- I've been seving the turkey, and there's gravy, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, green beans.
Pat- I'm Pat, and I'm serving gravy, and my daughter was the one that wanted to come serve today so that's why we're here. We've done this in Medina twice before, so I think it's going to be a tradition.
BR- And so it is with many of the volunteers here. Sister Corita says the Thanksgiving effort brings them out in droves.
CA- The people in Cleveland are wonderful, and they do a magnificent job. And the people who come to eat love it because they have someone different to talk to - they're used to just having me every day; they get a chance to talk to someone else. And so many people will share with them, and they love to have someone do that.
BR- People like Natalie, who has come over to St. Augustine's from the east side. A large African American, Natalie claps along with live music as she waits for her meal. She's come here to St. Augustus by herself. She says alcohol abuse has separated her from her family.
Natalie- That world that they in, I ain't in no more. Drinkin' world. And plus I go to church. And my pastor's name is Jesse Lee Horne, up on 93rd and Nelson.
BR- The St. Augustine Hunger Center provides meals to the poor and homeless year round - about 190 show up for breakfast every day, according to Sister Corita, and maybe 250 for lunch, depending on the day. She sees lots of familiar faces.
CA- I think I would know everybody here, from one time or another.
BR- And there's plenty of food to go around?
CA- Yes, we did well. We cooked 900 turkeys, so we should have enough.
BR- And plenty of volunteers?
CA- And plenty of volunteers.
BR- In Cleveland, Bill Rice, 90.3 WCPN News.