4 minute read

People with few possessions or financial resources enjoyed good food, fellowship, and care from volunteers and staff of the Oklahoma City Homeless Alliance Wednesday.

Deris Batts was patiently waiting in line with the other 491 people who received a hot Thanksgiving meal Wednesday at the OKC Homeless Alliance Westtown Day Shelter.

“I think this is great. I really do,” he said. “It helps everybody, you know. It feels good to eat here.”

Thanksgiving meal
Deris Batts waits patiently for a Thanksgiving meal provided by donor to the Oklahoma City Homeless Alliance Wednesday. Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press

Tony James and his friend who only gave the first name Latrelle, were surprisingly eager to have their photo taken as are some who live on the streets or are housing insecure.

It’s as if they want anyone to know that they are still here.

Thanksgiving
Latrelle (L) and Tony James have a good time waiting for the Thanksgiving meal. Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press

Live music provided

Ken Pomeroy, singer/guitarist, and her father, Skippy on percussion, were performing for the 500+ people who were in the Day Shelter midday.

Ken was so comfortable playing and singing for the crowd I asked if she is used to busking on the street.

Thanksgiving
Ken Pomeroy, playing the guitar and her father, Skippy on percussion perform for the guests at the Thanksgiving meal alt the Westtown Day Shelter Wednesday. Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press

She said that actually they perform at the Day Shelter about once per month, so that’s why she was so used to performing there.

“It’s honestly such a fun thing to share my music with people,” she said.

They made a music video last year that included a song about homelessness. The video was used to raise money for the homeless in OKC, eventually topping $5,500.

Broad spectrum of Volunteers

Brad Johnson is the executive chef with the Hal Smith restaurant group. For the past eight years, he has volunteered with the full blessing of his employer to help coordinate the Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving
Volunteers Wayne Coyne (L) and Brad Johnson visit as the Thanksgiving meal is being set out. Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press

Their volunteer chefs helped prepare many of the side dishes along with volunteers from other restaurants.

This year Francis Tuttle donated student time and a state-of-the-art kitchen to cook 73 donated turkeys the day before and keep them in a warmer.

“I’m from Asher, Oklahoma and this is just giving back to folks here,” Johnson said. “Hal Smith himself is so supportive of this. He’s always telling us to give back.”

Wayne Coyne, frontman for Oklahoma City’s Flaming Lips band, with his wife, Katy and baby son Bloom were getting cupcakes ready on trays. Katy said that typically Wayne is on tour someplace and can’t get back to volunteer during holidays. This year their tour schedule had them in town for a few days over Thanksgiving, which allowed them to volunteer.

Thanksgiving
Wayne Coyne, his wife, Katy, help set out cupcakes for the Thanksgiving meal guests. Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press

Staff engage

Ranya O’Connor, director of Curbside Chronicle, one of the many projects of the Homeless Alliance was helping out in the kitchen, too.

“I just think that this meal is really important because it provides community and provides togetherness,” she told us. “And, it provides a traditional meal.”

“A lot of folks whenever they’re staying outside and experiencing homelessness, don’t get that during the holidays,” O’Connor explained. “And so, getting to have that normalcy, and that time and just a really good, beautiful, healthy, hearty meal is really great.”

Information provided by Kinsey Crocker with the Homeless Alliance said that the Day Shelter serves an average of 350 guests daily.

Approximately 1,300 people in Oklahoma City Experience Homelessness on any given night, Crocker said.

Meals available Thanksgiving day

The following are locations that will be serving meals on Thanksgiving Day 2019:

Salvation Army in OKC
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
1001 N. Pennsylvania Ave.
Oklahoma City, Ok

City Rescue Mission in OKC
7 a.m. breakfast and 12 p.m. lunch
800 W. California Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK

Norman Community Thanksgiving Dinner
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Norman High School Cafeteria
911 W. Main St.
Norman, OK

Edmond Community Thanksgiving Dinner
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
UCO Nigh University Center
100 N. University Drive
Edmond, OK


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