With an army of Rim Guidance volunteers, 300 pounds of turkey and 100 pounds of mashed potatoes, more than 300 hungry people were served a free Thanksgiving feast Nov. 20 at Mount Cross Lutheran Church.
The annual Thanksgiving dinner put on by Southwest Behavioral Health Rim Guidance benefits the center’s clients.
Counselor Lee Kennedy, who has been with the center for 23 years, cooked up three turkeys, four pies and more mashed potatoes than she can remember.
“I love to cook,” Kennedy said. “It makes us all happy.”
Kennedy said the event gives staff the chance to do normal stuff.
“We tried it as an experiment the first year and we liked it so much we kept doing it,” she said. “It is our favorite, favorite thing. We cook and cook until you can’t cook anymore.”
The center’s employees volunteer their time and money to cook up various sides and fixings.
Tables were decorated with roosters, fall colors and decorations from homes.
The center expected a 33-percent increase in dinner goers’ over last year.
“A lot are low-income consumers, so this helps them out,” said operations manager Diane Roberson. “We are like their family.”
Southwest Behavioral Health took over Rim Guidance in 2000, when there were 350 clients, now there are more than 1,300.
Rim Guidance, a private nonprofit organization made up of 60 employees, offers a list of programs for addiction problems, serious mental illness, mental issues and children.
“We have individual, group and family counseling, patient education and three psychiatric providers,” Kennedy said. “We offer case management, help people get on food stamps, fill out forms, help get housing — we work with a full spectrum of cases.
“If someone comes in, they tell us what they want to work on, we don’t tell them,” Kennedy said. “What would it take for you to feel optimal?
“We help them remember what is right about them, to remember what feeling good is,” Kennedy said. “A lot of the people have had really bad luck with family and abuse and not had people talk to them in a validating way.”