A Lorain homeless man who was late for the community dinner at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Elyria prayed aloud as he entered just as the ceremony was ending, looking for a hot meal.
“My bike broke down. I have an apartment. I pray it’s not too late to eat. I’m starving,” said Thomas Warner, who rides his recently repaired bike.
Church volunteers sprang into action, even though they had worked hard to prepare a meal for around 200 people this year – they invited Warner over to eat.
“I think this is the first time we’ve served someone in the kitchen,” said Mari Brosky, this year’s event coordinator.
The man had tears in his eyes as he sat in the church kitchen eating a full meal while volunteers also served him a drink.
“We serve the unfortunate,” Brosky said, adding that the event is open to everyone.
The event took place at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Middle Avenue.
“We have people who just don’t want to eat alone on the holidays,” said Jenny Barden, who has volunteered in various functions for years with her husband Bruce Barden.
“It’s open to everyone,” Bruce added.
The church has served meals to a crowd of 500 in recent years.
Event organizers weren’t sure what to expect this year with the reopening of the in-person gathering, Brosky said.
“We must have felt it this year, but it turned out well,” Brosky added.
“Everyone who came was so grateful. I heard ‘thank you’ over and over again,” Jenny Barden said.
The congregation also helped by providing homemade desserts.
Community Dinner is normally served three holidays a year: Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
The church served ham, potatoes, corn, salad, bread, desserts and drinks, the group said.
Volunteers quickly cleaned up and packed the leftovers for the next week when they will be distributed to those in need through the hot meal program, the group said.
Jerry Schill, the cook, and his team members were credited with their hard work and great food.
“If it wasn’t for (Schill), this event wouldn’t exist,” Brosky added.