Volunteers: Community dinner rewarding

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Raymond Mondragon and Leticia Perez of Clovis go over routes to deliver Thanksgiving meals to homebound community members.

Benna Sayyed

Sandra Taylor-Sawyer recalls when her close family members stayed at the Lighthouse Mission, and considers it a great blessing to her family.

On Thursday, Taylor-Sawyer helped spread this blessing to others by volunteering at the Lighthouse Mission Thanksgiving dinner.

Taylor-Sawyer was one of 104 volunteers who set aside time to serve hot Thanksgiving meals to 195 people at the Mission and deliver another 278 packaged meals to homebound residents in Clovis.

According to Lighthouse Mission Executive Director Richard Gomez, the Mission started feeding folks before 10:30 a.m., more than a half an hour before schedule.

Taylor-Sawyer, her husband Donald Sawyer, and one of their daughters participated in the event by greeting diners, making upbeat conversation and helping out with home deliveries.

“Unfortunately not everyone has the means and the ability to go where they have family to eat and enjoy fellowship,” Taylor-Sawyer said. “This can be a depressing time for them. This is my family’s way of helping others.”

Taylor-Sawyer said she enjoyed the gratitude people expressed when receiving food and being sat at tables. The serving staff included at least 10 youth ages 6-16 from Cannon Air Force Base and local churches.

The young servers courteously offered drinks, slices of pumpkin pie and removed used plates and refuse from tables with a cheerful smile. Volunteers also included folks who called the mission offering to help.

Ledonna Dawson brought her 10-year-old daughter to volunteer at the Thanksgiving dinner to instill a deeper sense of appreciation for what her family has.

“Volunteering today made me very grateful for what I have and reminded me to not get caught up in material things. It was humbling to serve other people,” Dawson said.

While serving turkey and sides Dawson mingled with people to ensure they had an enjoyable Thanksgiving meal. She plans to volunteer at the Mission’s Christmas event in December and at its Thanksgiving dinner next year.

Woody Weiler has eaten meals at the Mission for years. On Thursday Weiler stopped in for a bite because he was hungry, he said, laughing and finishing his second plate with a third on the way.

“The meal today has helped me feel better about life,” Weiler said. “It makes you realize that there’s a god. You realize when people do stuff like this they are truly feeling God’s spirit instead of just thinking about themselves.”

Brandi Medina took a short break from moving to another residence to dine at the Mission with her husband. The couple enjoys meals at the Mission regularly, but this was the first Thanksgiving meal they attended.

“It’s just a blessing when you don’t have anybody else but each other here in town,” said Medina, who is from Oklahoma and whose husband is from South Texas. “The food was awesome. It tasted just like home-cooked food.

“The mashed potatoes were the best. I could eat them every day.”