Family meal: United Arc, Stone Soup partner for Thanksgiving dinner

  • Diners of the Stone Soup Cafe help themselves to drinks prior to the serving line opening on May 23. Recorder File Photo

Recorder Staff
Published: 11/22/2016 11:04:55 PM

GREENFIELD — A community Thanksgiving meal this Thursday will serve as the first partnership between two like-minded local agencies that pair as beautifully as mashed potatoes and gravy.

The United Arc, a non-profit organization that works to ensure people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have access to equal opportunity, has teamed with Stone Soup Café to provide an inclusive community dinner on a pay-what-you-can basis at All Souls Church on Main Street.

Brian Ross, the Arc’s director of adult services, said his agency’s clientele are excited about this opportunity to dine with their fellow citizens.

“Just like everybody else in the community, a lot of people we provide services to here at the United Arc don’t have families or places to go on the holidays and there is kind of a disconnect. Instead of the holidays feeling as though it’s a time of joy or celebration, it feels as though it’s pointing out possibly what people don’t have,” he said. “The reason why the Arc is really excited about this partnership is because it emphasizes how people of all abilities are members of the community.”

People are invited to stop by for the meal anytime between 1 and 4 p.m. at 399 Main St. Ross said there is a suggested donation of $10 for people who can afford it. He said the Arc has held a Thanksgiving meal at its other office in Turners Falls for many years and Stone Soup Café holds a pay-what-you-can meal every Saturday, starting at 12:15 p.m.

Willow Ross, the office manager at the Arc and the café manager for Stone Soup, said volunteerism has steadily increased and schools send groups to help out. Volunteers take care of tasks that include cooking, prepping, rolling silverware and decorating. Anyone interested in volunteering can call Volunteer Coordinator Patricia Kain at 413-768-7436 or send an e-mail to

Kain, who started at Stone Soup a year and a half ago, said 50 to 60 people have volunteered their time for between now and Saturday, when the café serves its next regularly scheduled meal.

Kain compared the volunteer crew to a football team.

“If we don’t all do it together, then it doesn’t work,” she said.

Brian Ross said the holidays conjure up images of happiness for many, though for others the season can be a reminder of their lack of financial or family resources. The environment is saturated with billboards and commercials featuring the “perfect family” and this bombardment can be isolating and polarizing to the less fortunate. Not everyone’s Thanksgiving is associated with tasty food, delightful traditions or that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

More information about Stone Soup Café is available at The United Arc can be contacted at 413-774-5558 or


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