Homeless Tri-Citians enjoyed an early Thanksgiving meal the day before the holiday.
Therapeutic Innovations and Recovery serves meals for about 40 people on a typical day, but 69 came to the nonprofit's second annual turkey dinner Wednesday.
On the menu were three turkeys, 30 pounds of potatoes, more than five quarts of stuffing, an oven full of yams and several quarts of gravy.
Since the Kennewick facility doesn't have a permanent kitchen, some food was cooked on site using slow cookers.
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Executive Director Steve Gaulke said the day center on Bruneau Place serves the chronically homeless, as well as homeless people with mental health issues, those who are recently divorced, domestic violence victims and young adults coming out of the foster system.
The agency offers meals, counseling, laundry service, case managers to help clients find housing and other services and a computer with Internet access.
"It lets me know that if I don't have any clothes, there's clothes for me," said Katy Nelson, 21, a homeless woman who has been coming to the agency since March. "If I don't have food, there's food to put in my stomach. It's caring, helping people. They help out trying to get housing and help you out with the counseling."
The agency had its Thanksgiving meal Wednesday because Ben Franklin Transit buses don't run today, Gaulke said.
"We wanted to make sure we captured everybody," he said. "We capture a lot of people from the Richland and Kennewick area, and we also get people from Pasco."
Bobbie Hull of Kennewick makes a meal for the users of the day center each week, taking about $40 out of her own pocket. For Thanksgiving, she fixed an extra turkey.
"I have family who are very, very poor," she said. "It says in the Bible you're supposed to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. I just feel like God has called me to do that, and my husband hasn't complained yet about the $40 a week."
Randy Reynolds, 38, came to Therapeutic Innovations and Recovery in October 2012. It connected him with other agencies to find housing, and he now has a place to live in Richland. He suffers from a mental disability, but volunteers at the day center a couple of days a week.
"Steve is just an awesome guy. He's got the right people under him to help him get things done," he said.
The shelter's needs become greater during the colder months, said Paul Boyus, Therapeutic Innovations and Recovery's senior volunteer.
The day center is seeking donations of food like peanut butter and pre-made casseroles as well as winter clothes and toiletries for the homeless, he said. A Vietnam War veteran, Boyus started with the shelter two years ago when Gaulke let him stay in an empty room so he could be some place warm.
"Mr. Gaulke is so good. He will use his own money to pay for stuff," he said. "I don't think he should be doing that."
For information on donating, call 222-1030.
-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom
Free Thanksgiving meals offered today
-- The Tri-City Union Gospel Mission is offering Thanksgiving meals to the public from 2 to 4 p.m. today at 112 N. Second Ave., Pasco.
-- The Salvation Army is offering a free community Thanksgiving dinner from noon to 2 p.m. today at its Richland location, 1219 Thayer Drive. Call 943-7977.
-- Pasco’s American Legion, Post 34 is holding a free Thanksgiving feast from 1 to 4 p.m. today at 1029 S. Sylvester St. The dinner is for all veterans (active duty, reservists and retirees), their families and invited guests. Call 727-3770.