GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Nearly 2,000 people enjoyed a warm Thanksgiving meal downtown Grand Rapids Thursday afternoon, at the 18th Annual Mel Trotter Ministries (MTM) banquet.
People feasted on more than 1,500 pounds of turkey, and nearly as much mashed potatoes, prepped and served thanks to 700 volunteers.
Charles Freeze said enjoying this meal alongside so many others makes him feel supported.
“It’s not really the fact of somebody being homeless or that; it’s about people coming together,” said Freeze.
Freeze said he used to be on the streets; but when he came to this Thanksgiving meal last year, he said it helped him change his life.
“I pretty much hit rock bottom: I lost my job and I lost my apartment,” said Freeze. “I wasn’t praying, I didn’t have a connection with God, it was very hard. It was very hard because drugs had a hold of me.”
Now a few months into his MTM program, Freeze said he is working at a factory, and is back on his feet.
“Just don’t give up and most importantly keep God in your life, and things will work out,” said Freeze.
Then just a few tables away, as a Ugandan choir sang through smiles and applause, long-time volunteer Mitch Dykstra served hot mashed potatoes.
“It’s a big part of my life, volunteering,” said Dykstra.
Dykstra volunteers this Thanksgiving meal each year, and did so alongside his wife of 53 years until she passed two years ago. He was even wearing his original purple shirt from the first MTM Thanksgiving banquet 18 years ago.
To Dykstra, this meal is about connecting with people.
“If they can find two things: have some food, and also food for their soul,” said Dykstra.
It’s a meal to give thanks, and a meal that gives hope.