What is Thanksgiving Season for you? This Thanksgiving found me continuing my tradition to help at a homeless shelter. It also gave me a new tradition; a time to be with family for our first holiday dinner together in 29 years. Yes, my life is vastly different in a (very) good way than before I set roots here in my community. And keeps getting better. For me, it is a time of gratitude, in traditions old and new.
Yesterday, Thanksgiving, and same as the last few Thanksgivings, I joined friends to serve dinner to the residents of Tender Mercies in Cincinnati. Tender Mercies is a supportive and transitional housing environment in our Over-The-Rhine neighborhood in Cincinnati, not far from my Northern Kentucky home. We served dinner to not only the residents, but also others who came in for a warm and friendly dinner. In all, we served, oh in a rough guess, about 100 people.
This home is but one of several shelters in our greater area. Many shelters have certain strengths to reach and help persons with specific needs. This particular place states their mission as:
“Tender Mercies transforms the lives of homeless adults with mental illness by providing security, dignity, and community in a place they call home.”
These residents, each in their own way thanked us for their dinner. And once dinner was served, I stepped outside to smoke, where a resident joined me for a few minutes in a shared moment of what life is like for each of us.
Though these folks were grateful, I thanked them for:
—inviting us into their home
—for letting me give back to my community
—and for a spirit of heart-felt connection.
If you haven’t read my memoir yet, but plan to, then this here is an update or an added chapter to the “end of the story.” I suppose our story never truly ends. There is always room for growth, for new understanding, for relationships to begin or be renewed.
I volunteer at Tender Mercies periodically to help in their dinner hour. Returning on Thanksgiving, I was greeted by residents who I’ve come to know; some, even if only by their smile, and some by picking up where we had last left off at in our chit-chat.
Earlier in my day on Thanksgiving, I shared it with my baby brother and only sibling. (I think of him as a baby brother although he is nearing 50 years old.) Knowing my brother is, well, is a new thing, different from the familiar faces in my volunteering. My brother recently left his home in Southern California to stay with me, here in Northern Kentucky. The last holiday my brother and I spent together was Thanksgiving 1990. I’ve had no holidays with relatives since that time in 1990.
I had been his long-lost sister. My debut book and published memoir is aptly titled, “Out of Chaos.” No longer living in chaos, life is bright and often new. Or, as with my brother and I, a chance to renew life. Thus far, we are not reliving what got us to this point. Rather, we are creating a new point. My story of chaos has ended. Our story of a renewed life is continuing to unfold. For this, I am grateful.
As we move into a new day after Thanksgiving, there are ongoing needs in our communities.
Link to Homeless Shelter Directory of Helping the Needy:
If you are in other parts of America and need a resource to point you where help is needed, this website is user friendly. It opens with a map of the United States—click on your state and from there, find out where to go and who to contact.
Link to Tender Mercies (Cincinnati, Ohio).
Tender Mercies: Here in a video, residents share their stories. (Five-minute viewing). Link to it at https://youtu.be/3BjG2L0u_5E
Link to “Your Family.” I have no experience in using this resource, nor do I know of anyone who has. You may find this website useful if you are looking for a lost loved one, as I was once the long-lost sister to my baby brother. It provides a bulletin board for postings and links to further resources.
Happy Thanksgiving Season, my friends.
I am so very grateful that you are in my circle of supporters, allies, and friends. Together. we can create a loving community for everyone; family, friends and new friends, alike.
What are your Thanksgiving Season Traditions and why? Is there a new Thanksgiving Tradition you hope to start? Please share in the comments.
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