HARLINGEN — “It’s ready!”
The hams had been cut, turkey cooked, mashed potatoes and green beans had all been prepared by the volunteers at Loaves and Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley.
That thanks to vivacious volunteers like Jose Martinez Jr., 19, who spoke with great passion about the work they’d done to prepare yesterday’s meal.
“It’s been pretty good, you know, giving to people that don’t necessarily have the chance to get the food that they need to get,” Martinez said.
Thanksgiving dinner was served at Loaves and Fishes at 514 S E St. at about 3 p.m. yesterday. The Rev. Bill Reagan, executive director of Loaves and Fishes, said he expected to serve about 300 people at the Harlingen location and another 200 at the new facility in Raymondville.
“We feed a lot of people that stay in the shelter that wouldn’t have anything at all,” he said.
Loaves and Fishes also used the dinner as an opportunity to reach out to the community about its new program called “Reborn from the Ashes.”
“It’s a mental health program for homeless people who are suffering from substance abuse disorders and co-occurring disorders,” Reagan said.
Co-occurring, he explained, refers to people who are suffering from mental health issues while struggling with substance abuse. The facility has had the program in place for a few months and it’s funded by the Substance Abuse Health Service Administration.
“It’s free counseling services,” said Maria Galvan, counselor.
“We have some information with regards to the program,” she said. “That way they can call us.”
She and several volunteers were also preparing candy bags to give out to those eating at the facility yesterday.
“We’ll be distributing about 300 here and 200 in Raymondville,” Galvan said. “It’s pretty much for anybody who walks through that door. It’s been good, it’s been exciting, and we have some of our shelter clients helping us as well.”
Martinez anticipated a big turnout yesterday.
“This is for people who are not financially stable enough to get what they need,” he said. “We can provide it for them.”