Salvation Army serves up Thanksgiving meal

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/><br/>Cindy Phillips of Greenfield, left, was going to buy pie crust when she ran into Robin Rogers, Michael Ramirez and their 4-year-old daughter Anaise, outside a closed Greenfield supermarket, where the family went to buy a turkey. Instead, Phillips drove them over for a meal at the Salvation Army on Chapman Street.

    Recorder/Paul Franz

    Cindy Phillips of Greenfield, left, was going to buy pie crust when she ran into Robin Rogers, Michael Ramirez and their 4-year-old daughter Anaise, outside a closed Greenfield supermarket, where the family went to buy a turkey. Instead, Phillips drove them over for a meal at the Salvation Army on Chapman Street.

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Captain Daniel Brunelle of Slavation Army on Chapman St

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Captain Daniel Brunelle of Slavation Army on Chapman St

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/><br/>Cindy Phillips of Greenfield, left, was going to buy pie crust when she ran into Robin Rogers, Michael Ramirez and their 4-year-old daughter Anaise, outside a closed Greenfield supermarket, where the family went to buy a turkey. Instead, Phillips drove them over for a meal at the Salvation Army on Chapman Street.
  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Captain Daniel Brunelle of Slavation Army on Chapman St

GREENFIELD — “I appreciate coming over here today because without this we wouldn’t have nothing, no Thanksgiving, we’d be eating cereal all day,” Michael Ramirez said.

On Thursday, Ramirez, 24, sat at a table in the Salvation Army building on Chapman Street with his girlfriend Robyn Rogers, their 4-year-old daughter Anaise Rogers, and Cindy Phillips of Greenfield, whom he introduces as the family’s angel.

The family had just moved to Greenfield from Boston, Ramirez said, and are having a hard time as he looks for work.

Believing it to be open, the family had walked to the Stop and Shop supermarket that morning to buy a turkey and found it closed.

Phillips, there to buy a pie crust, said she learned the family’s predicament and volunteered to give them a ride, eventually bringing them to the Salvation Army meal.

Ramirez said the family has been struggling for four years, and while he had work in Boston, the neighborhood was plagued by drugs and violence.

Wanting a safe environment for Anaise, the family moved here and are now struggling to pay rent and put food on the table.

“I don’t want to struggle right now, I want a job,” Ramirez said. “Basically I just want to work and make a living like everybody else.”

For Ramirez, the unexpected meal is a welcome break from the struggle.

“I appreciate this day, spending time with my family,” he said. “I’m happy now. I get to enjoy this meal here and I’m happy.”

Like the other 40 or so people seated around the circular tables in the Salvation Army dining room, the three had before them heaping plates of turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy and other fixings.

At a neighboring table, Peter Rice was also hoping for work but enjoying Thanksgiving in the company of a friend.

Rice, 46, said he is originally from Northampton and returned to the area from Florida last year for a job painting houses but his employer got sick and he has been without work since last October.

Now, with his boss on the mend and snow on the way, he is hoping to work this winter shoveling off rooftops.

In the meantime, he said he doesn’t mind spending holidays at the Salvation Army.

“Everybody seems to be happy, having a real good meal,” he said, gesturing around the room. “They’re nice people here. No one judges you.”

“We recognize that at different times in life people can go through a rough patch,” said Salvation Army Capt. Daniel Brunelle.

Citing the Salvation Army motto “Heart to God, hand to man,” Brunelle said the organization has a dual mission.

“One, we’re a Christian mission that spreads the gospel of Jesus Christ; the second is to help people at their point of need and without discrimination,” Brunelle said.

Today, volunteers estimated they had served about 95 plates and Brunelle said they were on track for 150, about the same number as last year.

Giving back

Jay Scarborough is one of the regular volunteers.

Scarborough said he has volunteered at the Salvation Army off and on for five years, working in the kitchen, cleaning or whatever else needs doing, because the organization helped him when he was having trouble finding work.

Brunelle said community members wishing to help can volunteer their time as bell ringers or in the kitchen, or make donations of food or Christmas gifts for children.

Those wishing to help can reach Brunelle or Peggy Rockwood at (413) 773-3154, or Brunelle by email at daniel.brunelle@use.salvationarmy.org, or pick up gift tags for the Angel Tree drive at any Greenfield Cooperative Bank branch.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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