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‘An Expression of Love': St. Francis House Prepares Thanksgiving Feast for Homeless Community

NBC Boston 11/24/2022 Jeff Saperstone
Festive table setting with autumn leaves and pumpkins, space for text on wooden background, flat lay. © Getty Images

Festive table setting with autumn leaves and pumpkins, space for text on wooden background, flat lay.

Prepping a Thanksgiving meal for 350 people might sound daunting, but it's exactly how St. Francis House's Head Chef Seth Green spends each and every year.

"I get here between 3:30 a.m. and 4 in the morning on the day of to start getting everything put together for the meal.”

What's Green putting together exactly? More than fifty turkeys, 700 rolls, 150 lbs of mashed potatoes, 120 lbs of green beans, 70 lbs of cranberry sauce, and 20 gallons of gravy. And on top of all of that, he still has breakfast to serve.

"I like doing cooking and seeing the look on their faces when they get an actual home cooked meal on China [plates], served to them, just like you would do at home," said Green.

Staff at St. Francis House arrived early Thursday morning to prepare a Thanksgiving feast for an estimated 350 members of Boston's homeless community. But the work does not stop with just putting a meal together.

St. Francis House staff are trying to make their guests feel like they're at home. Linen tablecloths, flowers and candles will be spread across the dining tables at St. Francis House.

"Thanksgiving is a special holiday for everybody," said Karen LaFraizia, President of St. Francis House, who has been in charge of the organization for two decades. "It's a time for family, a time for food and fellowship; people coming together. But if you're somebody experiencing homelessness, it's also a very lonely time. You feel very detached, so we just try to do everything we can pull out all the stops."

LaFraizia made an emphasis on the act of serving their guests. "It's 30-40 people coming in, really serving a meal on china plates so that people can have some sense of specialness for the holiday."

For LaFrazia, the best part of the work is when she can see someone recognize that they are loved.

"Everything we're doing here is an expression of love. It's an expression that people matter. The volunteers that come in here, they're expressing that. Seth - our chef - when he cooks all those turkeys, that's an expression of love. When someone who's sitting down to that meal feels that they belong and knows that they're loved, there's no better feeling.

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