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Fellowship, CSUS volunteers bring holiday feast to homeless shelter
We Care pic
Volunteers David Chinoraks, Jan Schefkowitz and Mike Igoe dish out a holiday feast at the We Care cold weather homeless shelter on Tuesday. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

The daily life of most homeless men is all about survival. They must struggle to find shelter from the cold, adequate clothing to protect themselves from the elements and food for nourishment. One area organization decided their holiday gift to the homeless would be a vacation from want — a moment of plenty.

For the past six years, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County has provided a holiday feast for the men staying at the We Care cold weather homeless shelter in Turlock. The food they prepare is not your ordinary dinner meal; it is truly a feast with fresh ingredients and gourmet spices. And the best part — it’s all you can eat.

“We thought to ourselves, ‘How can we create a moment of plenty to those whose lives are dominated by scarcity?’” said Bill Greer, project coordinator for the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, about the church’s decision to provide the homeless a holiday feast. “It gives them something to celebrate and something to look forward to.”

The members of the fellowship — young and old — helped to prepare the feast in the past few weeks with food prep parties and baking groups. The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship also serves a meal twice a month throughout the winter at the Modesto Salvation Army homeless shelter.

Tuesday’s feast — which featured roasted turkey, Southern cornbread dressing, homemade mashed potatoes, hot giblet gravy, green beans with bacon, peppers and onion, candied sweet potatoes with orange slices, fresh mixed green salad, homemade holiday cookies and pies and ice-cream —was served by volunteers from California State University, Stanislaus.

Kathleen Hidalgo has served the holiday feast at We Care for the past six years.

“I just like to give back,” she said.

This was only the second year that Cal State Stanislaus history professor Sam Regalado had dished out gourmet dishes at the homeless shelter.

“I learned last year it was a rewarding experience to get in touch with people who could use the help,” he said.

We Care is a private nonprofit homeless shelter that is open from December through March and temporarily houses 34 men each night. Volunteers provide meals for the shelter residents each night. Those interested in donating funds to keep the shelter running in the winter months or volunteering to make dinner can contact We Care manager Debbie Gutierrez at 620-2414.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.