GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Mel Trotter Ministries hosted its annual Thanksgiving dinner to those experiencing homelessness on Thursday, but they had another good deed up their sleeve that had many rolling up theirs.
It was a warm Thanksgiving meal, with all the fixings. This year, it was with a side of a vaccine.
Cherry Health sent in a doctor, not knowing those here for the holiday would be this thankful.
"It's been really great being here today; we've had a lot of patients that have mentioned to us that they had been wanting the vaccine but hadn't gotten it yet," says Dr. Jenny Bush. "And then they felt kind of called that they were walking by and felt that it was here on purpose today on Thanksgiving to be able to get the protection.”
They were called here for more than one reason, as it was also the first banquet held after it was canceled last year due to the pandemic.
“Last year because of COVID, we could only give boxes out," says Mel Trotter Ministries President & CEO Dennis Van Kampen. "So we didn't have the big banquet. And there seems to be a level of excitement and energy in here that we haven't seen before.”
Mel Trotter has worked with Cherry Health throughout the pandemic, but this clinic makes it too convenient to pass up.
“Sometimes I think about my life, right? So it's pretty easy for me to call my doctor and go get a vaccine," Van Kampen explains. "But for so many people they don't have... it's not easy for them, right? So what we're finding out is when you bring services to people, they will engage and be excited about it.”
Hundreds left with full bellies, many with a newfound sense of community, doing their part to control COVID as Michigan remains at the top of the list for the worst reasons: one of the highest COVID rates in the nation.
“There was one lady that mentioned that she was very nervous, just a general vaccine phobia — shot, needle phobia," recalls Dr. Bush. "And she said that she's been thinking for months that she has to get this done and she knows her kids want her to get it done. But she kept avoiding it. And she said she just really felt called to come into this room when she was walking by, that it was here for her and that she needed to get it done. So she came, and I think she actually had a great experience in here with us and didn't have much pain and was very happy on her way out.”
Mel Trotter puts this dinner on every year, entirely run by volunteers. Five hundred people helped put out the banquet for anyone who needed a Thanksgiving meal. You can donate to help them fund next year's meal on their website.