News

Giving Back at Thanksgiving

MICHEAL ALFIERI

New London Meal Center gives safe place to eat and connect with others

The greatest way to describe the New London Meal Shelter was best said by volunteer Charlie Fairlie: “It’s community helping community.”
Arriving at the shelter, visitors are greeted with smiles and kind greetings. Joy radiates from the chatter of staff and management as well as consumers, and many guests mention how grateful they are for the help they receive from the kitchen.
With such a strong community bond in New London, the kitchen is a close-knit and welcoming environment, and many volunteers and guests alike have formed friendships within the kitchen, the kitchen is known as a safe place to socialize and meet new people.
“There’s a big correlation between health and diet, and here they have different meals for different diets,” said Mr. Fairlie, who has helped volunteer in the kitchen for around 33 years. Mr. Fairlie said all food in the kitchen is high quality, and there are countless options available for different diets, preferences, and dietary restrictions.
“My favorite meal is the lasagna or the baked chicken,” said meal shelter guest, Tammy. A common favorite meal for visiters is the meat lasagna, vegetarian mac and cheese, and salad.
Churches, companies, people, and food banks all contribute to the constant donations of food into the center.
Community is an important factor to the kitchen, and hugs and smiles are prevalent. This is where a support system is built. Many coming to the kitchen are going through hard times, and say the kitchen community provides them a welcoming place to talk and connect with others.
“I just like giving, and there were times when I was in the same situation here, so I like giving my time because I know how much it means to others in that situation,” said Mark Mcquillar, the assistant manager of the New London Meal Center.
Many volunteers come to work in the kitchen out of kindness in their hearts and wanting to see others be  happy.
“I love the thank you’s and kindness of the consumers,” said Christie Hayes, who has been volunteering since 1988.
Many who used to come to the meal center for aid return years later when they can support themselves to help others.
“Coming here is good for getting out of the house to socialize with others and to help others. A lot of people need someone to talk to, and it’s sad to see that [many people don’t have that],” said Bryan E. Chatman, who used to come to the meal center for help, but is now a volunteer.
The New London Meal Center is a spectacular place filled with a great community and astounding food, open to all ages, regardless of  situation.
If you would like to volunteer, call the volunteer coordinator at (860) 536-4784 or head over to their website. If you want to visit, go to 12 Montauk Ave, New London CT any time from 12-1p.m. on Saturday and 5-6p.m. every other day of the week.

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