Rescue Mission dinner serves up 'loving' and 'caring'

November 24, 2011|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • Diane Haugh of Greencastle, Pa., volunteers to help with the annual Thanksgiving dinner at the Hope Center at Hagerstown Rescue Mission.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — More than 40 volunteers turned out Thursday to serve an annual Thanksgiving dinner to anyone who wanted it at the Hope Center at Hagerstown Rescue Mission.

Becky Shank, development director of the center, said she was impressed by the number of people who wanted to volunteer for the dinner held in the Gospel Trinity Center.

“The amount of people we have wanting to help speaks so well for the community,” she said. “We are so blessed, because we never have a problem at finding people to step up.”

Shank said that she has had to turn volunteers away.

“Hagerstown is a great place for helping people out,” she said. “The people here are givers.”

As the event began at 11:30 a.m., Shank’s husband, Sonny, spoke to the people about the Hope Center. Members of the center then spoke about how it had turned their lives around.

Phyllis Polk, 46, of Smithsburg said she has been attending the Hope Center Thanksgiving dinner for at least six years.

“Everybody here is so loving and caring,” she said. “The people here are like brothers and sisters.”

Jose Obregon, 39, who has lived in Hagerstown for more than a year, is a member of the Hope Center. He said the Thanksgiving dinner is representative of how it reaches out to the community.

“The mission has been here for me, and it shows that it can be there for anybody,” he said. “This is all about us helping one another.”

Obregon said that even though he was not spending Thanksgiving  with his family, he was thankful that he could spend it with people at the center, some of whom are like family to him.

“I’ve seen people come and go from the Hope Center, and I am good friends with some of them,” he said. “This is a time to give thanks for that.”

Hagerstown resident Todd Morren, 49, who helped serve food, said he and his wife, Susan, volunteer for the Thanksgiving dinner every other year.

“It’s incredible coming in and being able to serve people,” he said. “This is our third time doing it, and it’s always a great experience.”

Morren said that he enjoyed meeting everybody at the dinner.

“To be able to hear people’s stories is great,” he said. “I like coming to help and serve them.”

Susan Morren said that she also enjoyed meeting the people who came in.

“Getting to talk to people and hear their experiences is amazing,” she said. “Just to sit at a table with them and listen to them makes the day worthwhile.”
The Hope Center at Hagerstown Rescue Mission is a nonprofit, faith-based relief organization started by Shank’s parents, Jim and Ellen Resh, in 1955. Although she did not know exactly when the center began serving the annual Thanksgiving dinner, Shank said it was going on at least during the early 1960s.

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