I was really looking forward to showing off my MAD cooking skills for a second year in a row. If you knew me, you would know that my MAD cooking skills involve only a few simple meals. My husband and I joke that my kids will forever remember when Mom cooked because we either had breakfast, pizza or cheese quesadillas.  Luckily, most of the food I was cooking in preparation for the Thanksgiving meal came with directions and I did have my at home chef, my husband Bobby.


This would be the second year that I had signed up to help with food prep for the Irvington Community Thanksgiving Dinner. Last year was the very first year I had ever heard about the event. This event is a 30+ yearly tradition and serves over 500 people around the community. You would think that such an event had lots of people behind it, but the one lady who makes this all come together is Rachael Wahl, AKA Wonder Woman.

When you arrive, you see her already in a frenzy running around telling people what to do and where to go but it really is organized chaos for her. She knows exactly what needs to be done, who is doing it and, by golly, she remembers everyone’s name. Following the frenzy of people being assigned their task, you can’t help but notice the massive amount of food waiting to be prepped. I have never seen so many canned yams in my entire life. I am almost sure we could have made our own Christmas tree with the boxes of stuffing, chicken broth and cans of yams.

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Head back to the kitchen and you will see the Young family doing their usual duty of cleaning the glassware. What makes them special is that Andy and Leslie Young have shown their children what giving is all about. They have their children attend the prep day and help wash the dishes. If you watch them in action it really is a special time. Children learning to give back. Watching their peers give their time to make meals for the next day.


It really will sound very cliché but as I am standing there sautéing the celery and onions in butter prepping it for the stuffing mix, just hoping that I am not going to set the cafeteria on fire, I was able to look around and watch all these strangers conversing among each other; no one with an agenda other than to help prep meals for 500+ people. Only a handful of them even attended Our Lady of Lourdes. They were from other churches surrounding the city and only a handful of us knew each other prior to volunteering.

It made me really appreciative of my family and my children. I was thankful that Lourdes could host such an event, that people from all over the community donated so much food, donated their time to make the food, serve it the next day instead of attending their family Thanksgiving and thankful for those who delivered meals to the people who were unable to come out of their homes.


If we could all learn to give a little back without anything in return other than a memory, we might make the world a better place. Imagine strangers coming together, laughing, talking and getting along who have nothing more in common other than to serve others for that one day.

That’s the type of world I want to leave behind for my children.