"For the last seven years, we've gone to the Salvation Army and we serve dinner to people in the adult drug rehabilitation program. I get so much out of it. It makes it a holiday when you consider that it's Thanksgiving, and you realize how much you have and how much other people don't. These are people that are down on their luck. They're either a step away from being dead or in jail. They're great people that may have done some bad things, but they're human and they're good people. I've met so many incredible people and heard so many stories. It's just an opportunity to give back. I realize we should do it all year round, but at the holidays I feel a need to do it more intently because it's the holidays. No matter how lucky you are or how unfortunate you are, it's still a holiday and people should get that sense of the season and hopefully pay it forward. The first year I did it, I was kind of scared. I was worried someone may be violent or something. But, no, these are people that are working the program. They wanna be better. They wanna be well. For the most part, they're happy to see us and I'm happy to see them every year."
WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO DO IT THE FIRST TIME?
"I did it to escape family dysfunction with a bunch of over-privileged, fighting people. Well, it was a way to graciously bow out and sort of hide behind the guys that were doing something good. I just never realized I'd like it so much. It just became our tradition to do it."
DID YOUR FAMILY UNDERSTAND?
"My mom actually volunteers with us. My sister, I don't think understands it. But I don't think she understands a lot of things. And because a lot of the dysfunction centers around her, it was easier to create some distance and do something for someone else because I couldn't do anything for her."
DO THE PEOPLE SEEM RECEPTIVE TO THE HELP? DO THEY SEEM HAPPY TO BE THERE?
"It depends on what level of the program they've been through. People that are there, that may be newer to the program, haven't really necessarily committed to working the program. You have to understand that when you go there, these people don't have access to their families or some don't have families. They've lost them due to their issues."
WHAT DO YOU MEAN "DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO THEIR FAMILIES"?
"Some of them are not allowed to have visitors or contact because that's the stage of the program that they're in. So, to have a nice, sit down meal in a family-like environment and be served...I think a lot of them really do appreciate it."
DO ANY OF THEM SHARE THEIR STORIES WITH YOU?
"Yeah, some have. Before they come in to eat, there's a church service and we volunteers usually go to the service as well. A lot of them stand up and say what they are thankful for. And a lot of them are thankful that they have another day alive and that they have a roof over their head, clothes on their back, food on the table. They'll talk about how they were living in the street, doing drugs, how they lost their family or how their family has disowned them or pushed them away. They'll literally stand up and give thanks and they'll cry. Inevitably, all the volunteers are crying too because you realize how lucky you are. But you also realize how lucky they are to get a second chance. Some of them will make it and it will change their lives, hopefully for the best. It's an emotional day, but it's good. It makes you realize how fortunate you are. It makes you realize that when you're griping about the small things, that you could be in that position, or that you might not even be lucky enough to be in that position. It's truly amazing."