SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The holidays can be an especially difficult time for Springfield’s homeless population. Without a home, a job, or family this Thanksgiving week, hundreds of homeless people in Springfield still had one reason to be grateful: A hot Thanksgiving breakfast served a day early at the Springfield Rescue Mission.
“It gives guys back that understanding that there is somebody out there that cares for you. That can help you if you need the help,” said Tony Smith. He is a homeless man who has been living for four months at the Springfield Rescue Mission. Smith said in that time, he’s become closer to God and his life has transformed for the better. He works in the mission’s kitchen. Smith said the mission will give residents what they put into it.
Joe Manna of the Springfield Rescue Mission said on a single night in 2015, 3,782 people were homeless in the greater Springfield area. Fortunately, many of them were not living on the streets, especially during the cold night hours. Most did find shelter at places like the Springfield Rescue Mission.
“It’s tough. It’s stressful. It’s very, very stressful. When you’re trying to do the right thing in life, based upon your past, what you’ve been through, what you’ve experienced in life,” Richard Woodson, a homeless man in Springfield, explained to 22News.
Even though they don’t have much, residents and guests at the Springfield Rescue Mission wrote reasons they were thankful this Thanksgiving on pumpkins that served as the centerpieces for all of the tables at the breakfast. Some of those reasons included “indoor plumbing”, “a hot shower”, “godly leaders” and “kitchen staff”.
Volunteers felt grateful too. “It’s nice to be able to pay it forward. I know that these people, you can give and there’s no expectation of getting anything back. They can’t pay me back, and that’s probably one of the best things is just being able to serve, and just love on them where they’re at,” said Jeremy Spring, a longtime volunteer with Springfield Rescue Mission.
As soon as the breakfast ended, preparations began for the Thanksgiving feast from 1PM to 4PM.