BRAWLEY- For every person who gathers around the table at Thanksgiving, there is always someone not able to, either because of homelessness, or working away during the holiday.
Stephen Ferrel is a Brawley truck driver who must travel to Phoenix Thanksgiving night and was unable to eat with his family, which is why he came to the Hacienda’s Thanksgiving dinner Thursday morning and to have a chance to dine with his son before leaving.
“I get to have dinner with my son and we get to see others being served by good people,” said Ferrel.
The Hacienda Scholarship Fund continued the eight year tradition of serving a warm Thanksgiving dinner Thursday morning at the Lion’s Center in Brawley to those in need.
“We usually have Thanksgiving at home, but times have been hard,” said Anthony Rhodes, one of the guests who came for a meal.
The dinner was started in 2009 by Brawley resident Rosie van Veen as a veterans’ dinner to honor the memory of her deceased husband, who was also a veteran. The Hacienda helped van Veen cater and serve the veterans at the Lion’s Center. A year later Van Veen became sick and was unable to do the event. So Mario Castaneda, owner of Hacienda catering, decided to continue it for her.
“We want to keep the tradition going on her behalf,” said Castaneda, “and it’s a good thing for the kids to see and help.”
Hacienda now serves the community of Brawley from the under privileged, the homeless,
and veterans. Plates are also sent to those who cannot get off work, like Ferrel and those working at the Brawley Police Department, the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office, and the Brawley Fire Department. Castaneda said they get 300 to 350 people a year. Volunteers came to help from Brawley Union High School, the Holtville U.S. Naval Sea Cadets, and Hacienda employees.
For the first time before 11:00 a.m., there was a line outside of the Lion’s Center of people and families waiting for the doors to open, according to perennial volunteer Ralph Fernandez.
At least 300 pounds of turkey and close to 500 pounds of mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy was served to guests this year.
The Hacienda has never run out of food for this dinner according to Castaneda, and any leftover food is donated to the House of Hope in El Centro.