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‘We are family’: East Bay communities serve up meals with love on Thanksgiving

By Anser Hassan, Lena Howland

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    OAKLAND, California (KGO) — Each year, the Bay Area Rescue Mission in Richmond serves Thanksgiving lunch and dinner to those in need. But this year has been different, according to William Tate, chaplain and case manager at the rescue mission.

“Just seeing an increase of the need. There have been families, children,” Tate explains.

According to Tate, this Thanksgiving they served over 300 families. But they serve more than 1,000 meals each week. And over the past year, he says he has seen an increase in those seeking services.

“One of my favorite things to say is, ‘Life has a way of lifting us.’ Even though it doesn’t make any sense in the world, it makes all the sense in the world because we call can resonate with hardship. So, I just identify that a lot of families have experienced hardship throughout this particular year,” Tate said.

The Bay Area Rescue Mission has been providing food and shelter in the city since 1965. But Tate says the meal isn’t just about the plate of food. Thanksgiving is often a time to be with family. For those who show up on Thanksgiving, it may be the closest they will get to a sense of belonging.

“Just the relationship aspect. The communal aspect. Building rapport with those who feel disenfranchised, the downtrodden. Just to be able to give a warm embrace, a warm smile. Again, just to show the love,” says Tate.

“All the homeless people. They come here and eat in droves!” Mark Daniels, lead residential assistant at the rescue mission said.

He says Thanksgiving a big event for them given the holiday tradition. But like the others, he emphasizes how this goes beyond feeding those who are hungry on Thanksgiving.

“We are family. We are a family right here in the center of Richmond,” says Daniels.

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