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Despite pandemic, volunteers pitch in to provide Thanksgiving meals for 70 seniors

The unmistakable fragrance of roast turkey flowed through the kitchen door at 18 Bay on Thanksgiving morning, as a team of volunteers assembled a feast of turkey, green beans, dressing, gravy, and cranberry sauce for a party of 70 scattered all over the Island.

The elegant front room of the restaurant was taken over by long tables holding rows of paper sacks, and plastic clamshell containers, each with a generous slice of pumpkin pie.

Working down a list of names and addresses put together by the staff at the Senior Center, Lions Club volunteers Mary-Faith Westervelt and John D’Amato packed the stay-warm containers of turkey and fixings as fast as Chefs Jaime Cogan and David Juzapavicus could bring them out of the kitchen.

It took Jaimie Cogan and David Juzapavicus a day and a half of cooking to make Thanksgiving for 70. (Credit: Charity Robey)

As each meal was packed, it passed under the eyes of Father Peter DeSanctis just long enough to receive a quality control check and benediction. “That’s 15 done,” Ms. Westervelt called to Chef Cogan as the first wave left. “We’re ready for more.”

A volunteer deliverer stuck his head in the door about three minutes before his shift, and was met with a look that went through Ms. Westervelt’s glasses and right over her mask.

“Later,” she said. “You are here too early. Everybody is spaced apart for a reason.” 

Fifteen minutes later he was loaded with dinners and rolled out. 

The delivering volunteers who fanned out across the Island in a race against cooling gravy included Brian Westervelt, Cathy Driscoll, Lucy Browne, Mike Russo, Jeanne Woods, Thom Milton, Anna Marie Rampmaier, Jo-Ann Robotti, Joe Messing, Chuck and Linda Kraus, Ken and Marilynn Pysher, Suzanne Louer and Glen Whelpley.

The recipients were seniors, living alone with few possibilities for visitors in this terrible year. One of them was George Strom, celebrating both Thanksgiving and his 94th birthday without family.

A birthday card packed in with his dinner brought a smile to his face, which lifted the hearts of the volunteers who delivered it.

George Strom celebrated his 94th birthday and Thanksgiving with a turkey dinner. (Credit: Lucy Browne)