For nearly five decades, South Pasadena officials have joined forces with neighboring Pasadena to ensure those in need have a bountiful Thanksgiving meal.
And that was the case this past Thanksgiving as So Pas officials joined forces with state and local representatives to serve scores of homeless and low-income families a Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings in Pasadena’s Central Park.
Whether it was State Senator Anthony Portantino or Pasadena Mayor Terry Torneck alongside So Pas City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe, Interim Police Chief Brian Solinsky or City Councilman Bob Joe, the food was served up hot and delicious.
The annual thanksgiving feast, known as the Union Station Services’ Thanksgiving Dinner in the Park, has been an integral part of Pasadena for 47 years.
“For 47 years, Union Station Homeless Services’ Thanksgiving Dinner in the Park has been an important part of Pasadena’s community of caring and for many, a special part of the holiday itself,” So Pas Police Sgt. Shannon Robledo, who also participated in serving up the feast, said in an email to The Review. “We love doing it and the people love us doing it.”
Interim Police Chief Solinsky concurred, saying the experience was “tremendous.”
“This was a tremendous experience, one that I am very grateful to have taken part in,” Solinsky said. “It was a wonderful opportunity to serve those less fortunate and give back to the community in a small, but meaningful way. I met some fantastic people from all walks of life. Some were community members, and others, although less fortunate themselves, were willing to lend a helping hand wherever needed. Law enforcement in South Pasadena is about community and partnerships with every citizen. Serving on Thanksgiving is just one way we can strengthen these bonds.”
The park is overrun with volunteers ready to be of service to those with no place to go during the holidays. It also gives officials a chance to refer anyone interested to services that can break the cycle of homelessness.
“I’ve been doing this my entire career,” Robledo has said during many conversations. “The whole reason for us being here is to help those who need it.” Officials estimate that more than 500 Thanksgiving meals were served up this past Thanksgiving.
“A small army of volunteers traditionally serves up hope and hot Thanksgiving dinners in Central Park to thousands of homeless men, women, children, seniors, very low-income families, and those with no place to go during the holidays,” Robledo said.
So Pas City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe agreed with her colleagues, adding it not only benefits the homeless, but the region as well.
“It was a great opportunity to come together as one regional community – non-profits, businesses, government agencies and individual volunteers – to work on a specific project with a specific outcome, feeding the homeless and hungry on Thanksgiving,” DeWolfe explained. “It gives me great hope that all of us can apply that spirit of collaboration at other times throughout the year as we address regional challenges such as homelessness and housing.”