St. Benedict's continues Thanksgiving meal tradition

Nov. 25—St. Benedict's continued its tradition of serving a Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, which was open to the shelter's residents and members of the community.

Harry Pedigo, the executive director of the shelter, said the meal began in 2011 and has been offered ever since. His family began assisting in 2014.

"We started inviting other families to join us and it's just kind of grown," he said. "Most of us come every year. It's been really cool."

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pedigo said the meal looked different than it had in the past.

"The last two years were really unorthodox," he said. "I came in by myself because everyone was scared so they just dropped food off, and the year before that it was the same thing."

Pedigo said the importance of the meal is multi-faceted.

"It demonstrates to the clients that there's hope and there is something to be thankful for," he said. "The other side of that is for all of us that come, it just reminds us where we could be, where we have been or where could be going in our life."

The shelter offers other holiday meals including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and even a Super Bowl party.

"Thanksgiving is our biggest meal," Pedigo said. "We began allowing our women's facility, maternal home and our transitional home to join us here whereas before it was just the men's facility."

Pedigo's father-in-law, Mike Hinkley, helped serve the holiday meal on Thursday. Hinkley said he assisted in pulling the meat and on Thursday morning, they worked with seven turkeys.

"We've been doing this for five or six years," Hinkley said. "It's become a family tradition for us. The whole family shows up and we do it every year."

Hinkley said it's great to be able to serve the community.

"That's what we're here for, we're here to serve," he said. "That's what God wants us to do and that's what we vow to do. We work all throughout the community to serve."

Thomas Williamson, a resident at the shelter, said he has been a resident at the facility for 11 years.

"I met a woman online and it didn't work out so I found this place here and they've been here for me through and through," he said. "It's just rough."

Williamson said he lost one of his daughters to a brain aneurysm in 2021.

"I'm just trying to maintain at 51 years old," he said. "It's hard. It's a rough road."

The holiday meals at the shelter allows for the residents and community members to get together, Williamson said. "It's different," he said. "It's not the same without family. But everyone treats us fairly. There's just all kinds of walks of life here and you hardly know anyone."