Time to give thanks

Romita’s an­nual Thanks­giv­ing din­ner set for Mon­day at for­mer church

The Barrie Examiner - - FRONT PAGE - IAN MCIN­ROY BAR­RIE EX­AM­INER

Come for the turkey and, al­most as im­por­tant, the ca­ma­raderie.

For more than 20 years, Rose Romita has been host­ing Rosie’s Free Com­mu­nity Din­ner, which will be held on Mon­day at the for­mer Cen­tral United Church, lo­cated at 54 Ross St.

The last ser­mon at the Ross Street church was held in June.

It’s a chance for folks who might be dis­ad­van­taged in some way to get a good, hot meal — sec­onds are al­lowed — but also a chance for ev­ery­one from ev­ery walk of life to sit down, talk and lis­ten. And eat. This year Romita, along with her trusty band of more than 100 vol­un­teers, will be cook­ing up 75 tur­keys that will be served up along with all the fix­ings be­tween noon and 6 p.m.

Those vol­un­teers are vi­tal to mak­ing the din­ner hap­pen, she said.

“They phone me and just show up,” she said. “Most of them are re­peats and then there are new ones and some of them have helped me from the be­gin­ning.”

It’s “in their hearts”, Romita said.

“They give their time be­cause they know it’s needed and some of them who are marginal­ized, or who have been, see the need,” she said. “They want to give back be­cause some of them have needed help at some point.

“Now they are more set­tled in their lives and they want to give a hand up to peo­ple who need it.”

Along with all the birds, vol­un­teers will be cook­ing up 300 pounds of pota­toes and car­rots.

As they have done so of­ten in the past, Romita said many lo­cal busi­nesses or­ga­ni­za­tions are do­nat­ing food.

“They are call­ing me up and ask­ing what I need,” she said, adding she still needs desserts, fruit and pop.

Romita also got a hand for Mon­day’s event from Vic­to­ria Vil­lage, who pur­chased Cen­tral United Church in De­cem­ber of last year.

“Rose asked me if we could al­low her to hold her Thanks­giv­ing din­ner there and af­ter a quick talk with my team, they unan­i­mously said we would ab­so­lutely sup­port Rosie with her din­ner,” said Vic­to­ria Vil­lage chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Sheri May­nard.

“Vic­to­ria Vil­lage is a com­mu­nity of car­ing and we’re good cit­i­zens,” May­nard said. “We’re thank­ful that we have all we have. We want to cer­tainly ex­tend that gen­eros­ity to Rose while she is in tran­si­tion and we’re able to do that.”

Romita said the (for­mer) Cen­tral United Church space has been vi­tal to the din­ners over the years.

“I’m so glad they (Vic­to­ria vil­lage) let me use it again,” she said. “I’ll have to find an­other place for the Christ­mas and Easter din­ners. It’s up in the air. When the time comes I’ll fig­ure it out.

“Some­thing al­ways comes up. I have faith in this city and the busi­nesses in it.”

To learn how you can help, call 705-796-7909.

MARK WANZEL/PHOTO

Rose Romita is in the kitchen again, pre­par­ing to host her an­nual Free Com­mu­nity Din­ner, which takes place Mon­day from noon un­til 6 p.m. at the for­mer Cen­tral United Church on Ross Street.

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