For 14 years the Thursday before Thanksgiving has itself been something to be thankful for. It's one night of the year when generous individuals and companies get together to help Waukesha County's less fortunate. Through bidding and donations, Waukesha's Hope Center benefits from near-capacity crowds at the Annual HOPE Thanksgiving Dinner and Auction.
If you are homeless or unemployed you're surely familiar with the services offered by Hope Center on East Ave. in Waukesha. Breakfast and lunch is served every day and dinner three times a week to needy individuals and families. Besides clothes, occasional emergency rent or utility help and furniture, Hope Center also offers a place for the homeless to stay during the day. The center has even been known to provide tents and sleeping bags to the homeless.
To not be homeless myself is one of my most thankful things, and helping those who help the homeless is also one of my most thankful things. Every year that I've helped with the annual dinner I've been astounded by everyone's kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness. It's a sure bet that most of the diners have never been homeless, and likely never will be, but that doesn't seem to stop them from caring about people they may never meet. Most of the attendees, it seems, are also active churchgoers. Many church groups donate the wonderful baskets for the silent auction. Several churches sponsor tables. A pastor offers thanks before the meal and Waukesha County pastors serve the dessert.
A good 6 months of planning goes into this benefit dinner. It wouldn't be possible without the selfless dedication of all the volunteers, board members and staff of Hope Center, the generosity of sponsoring companies and individuals, plentiful donors and high bidders for the auction, and the fantastic auctioneering of Todd Scheel. I again prepared the display of the live auction items, loved every minute of it, and couldn't have done it without help from my mom. These are the people I'm most thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Prayer, Hope and Thanksgiving. Prayer precedes every evening meal at Hope Center. There will be prayer of thanks before the meal the Friday after Thanksgiving when St. William's serves and again the following Monday when the St. William Conference of St. Vincent de Paul serves. Many of the same people will be dining there both nights. Folks down on their luck, the lonely and homeless, families with small children... Thankful there's a place in Waukesha anyone can go to for a hot, filling meal. Where there is despair, Hope. . .