by Jill Forman
It started as a family dinner…
Jeri and Joe Bendot, the residential caretakers of Community Presbyterian Church, had a Thanksgiving dinner for their family in the Fellowship Hall ten years ago.
The following year, they asked their friends from the park to join them.
The next year, the park folks asked their friends.
And so the tradition was started.
This year, close to 700 meals were served to anyone who came. Almost 100 volunteers set up, served, bussed tables, washed dishes, socialized with the diners and did whatever else needed doing. Other church and community members had donated money, made tons of food, worked for two days previously as prep cooks, all the many tasks that go into such an ambitious feast. Many churches are involved, and Community Presbyterian sponsors the dinner
And a feast it was: turkey and its trimmings, ham, potatoes, yams, vegetables of every type, salads, rolls, coffee, and lots of pies.
Greeting the diners was a lovely lady named Jean, who has been doing that job for years.
Adding to the joyful atmosphere was a versatile musician named Chris Stockdill who played the piano, guitar, flute and a melodious drum-like instrument “made out of a propane tank.” He also sang a few songs. His volume was perfect, everyone could hear him and still talk.
Jeri Bendot was everywhere: overseeing the food distribution, helping wash dishes, sitting and chatting with several tables of guests, greeting, still smiling despite what had to be an exhausting week. Joe, in a colorful tie-die, was a genial host. They even did an impromptu dance that got cheers.