By Meg Rowley
This Thanksgiving you might have had one too many slices of pumpkin pie, or you might have found your self loosening your belt after a hearty meal enjoyed in the company of your loved ones. A heaping feast is what we have come to enjoy and accept on Thanksgiving, but for thousands of people in the Albany area, a Thanksgiving meal is hard to come by.
To put an end to people going hungry on Thanksgiving, the Siena College community and Equinox, Inc., a social service agency, held a Thanksgiving dinner for anyone who was in need of a comforting Thanksgiving meal. Judy Dougherty, Assistant Director of the Franciscan Center for Service & Advocacy, said, “This dinner is open to all, regardless of race, creed, religion, financial status, etc.”
This is the 38th year that Equinox has put on a Thanksgiving meal for the community. Siena has been helping Equinox with this dinner for almost ten years.
The Equinox Dinner was comprised of two parts. Volunteers held a sit-down dinner on Thanksgiving in the First Presbyterian Church in Albany and also delivered meals to homebound people. At last count, over 8,000 meals on Thanksgiving Day were served.
The Franciscan Center for Service & Advocacy at Siena College organized volunteers to help with the Equinox dinner. Most of the volunteers were Siena Students. However faculty, staff, administrator, their families, and even some alum volunteered for this event. Dougherty said that about 110 Siena volunteers were helping out.
“I know that the Siena community always looks forward to volunteering for this program,” said Dougherty. Indeed, the Siena community seems dedicated to helping the community. Even after leaving the college, giving back is ingrained in many of the alumni. Siena alum Lindsey Maurer is an example, and she serves as one of the organizers of this dinner.
Dougherty says, “I have personally been involved with this program for many years and enjoy offering it to the Siena community where we can go as a community to serve our greater community.” The Siena volunteers deserve to feel this sense of pride in helping to better their community.
Many times the abundance of food that we eat on Thanksgiving is taken for granted. Volunteering students see first hand how fortunate they are and can learn how gratifying giving back is. As Dougherty puts it, “There is a great reward – personally and professionally – in facilitating the Siena community’s involvement to help feed the hungry of our area.”