A Community Unites to Feed 4,000 at Union Station Homeless Services’ Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park

Marvin Gross, CEO of Union Station and Linda Jahnke, Senior VP of Bank of America. Photo by SOSA PHOTOMarvin Gross, CEO of Union Station. Photo by SOSA PHOTOA Community Unites to Feed 4,000 at Union Station Homeless Services’ Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-ParkA Community Unites to Feed 4,000 at Union Station Homeless Services’ Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park

STAFF REPORTS | Photography by SOSA PHOTO

3:31 pm | December 2, 2013


The weather forecast said rain on Thursday, but that didn’t stop hundreds of volunteers from lining up as early as 8:00 a.m. at Central Park in Pasadena for the opportunity to serve the homeless and hungry a warm Thanksgiving meal.

In the end, not a single drop of rain fell on the 800 volunteers of all ages who–decked out in hair nets, aprons and plastic gloves–ladled turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes with gravy, and pie under a clear blue sky.

The event, organized by Union Station Homeless Services, was the 41st year of dinners-in-the-park. It began in 1972 when a group of volunteers from Pasadena’s All Saints Church organized the first dinner, and came together to form the earliest incarnation of Union Station Homeless Services. Since then, the dinner has been held every year at Christmas and Thanksgiving as an expression of compassion and care for those who otherwise might not see such holiday fare. No one is turned away, and 4,000 diners heeded the call to enjoy the meal this year.

Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard and the Reverend Dr. Mark Smurty of Pasadena Presbyterian Church joined Marv Gross, CEO of Union Station Homeless Services, at the microphone to say a few words before the noonday meal, and a special announcement from Bank of America added to the communal mood.

Bank of America announced a $200,000 grant to Union Station Homeless Services as part of its Neighborhood Builders Program.

Despite a new prohibition from the City of Pasadena Health Department on accepting home-cooked food donations at the event, everyone left the park with a full stomach and–more importantly–a full heart.

“Union Station Homeless Services’ 41st Annual Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park was a huge success,” said Gross. “We are so grateful to the many volunteers who brought caring, warmth and the true spirit of community to Central Park. Their efforts provided over 4,000 Thanksgiving meals plus 500 to-go packages to homeless and low-income individuals and families. It was a truly inspirational day!”

About Union Station Homeless Services

Union Station Homeless Services, now in its 40th year, is the San Gabriel Valley’s largest social service agency assisting homeless and very low-income adults and families. Union Station Homeless Services mission is to help men, women and children rebuild their lives and end homelessness. Union Station provides comprehensive, community-based programs to help homeless people achieve self-sufficiency, including intake and assessm­­­­­ent, emergency shelter, case management, career counseling, transitional housing, medical and mental health services, women’s and family services, and housing resources.

For more information, visit unionstationhs.org.