Equinox volunteers cook up Thanksgiving dinner

November 24, 2017 07:23 AM

ALBANY – Delivering an “Equinox” meal one year to an elderly woman in rural Rensselaer County, Helen Rezey and Chris Dobert of Brunswick navigated their way through goats and met chickens at the doorway.

"We were trying to walk through the goats and then we got to the entrance and there were chickens inside the house (in Grafton),” Rezey said, joking they hoped their kin wasn’t in the box being delivered. “Make sure they weren't in the box,” she added with a laugh.

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Rezey worked in the kitchen for a couple of years before switching to driving with Dobert for the past eight.

“It's always nice to meet people, especially the older people, when you bring it to them,” she added. “Lots of times they want you to come in and sit for a couple of minutes and talk to them."

It’s the Capital Region’s largest and longest-running holiday tradition. Nearly 50 years ago, a small group of community and religious leaders, students and social workers hosted a dinner for 200 college students who were not going home for Thanksgiving. It has grown into the Annual Equinox Thanksgiving Day Community Dinner and deliveries that serve nearly 10,000 lonely, homebound or homeless neighbors, Equinox officials said. More than 3,500 volunteers are involved.

“This is a family tradition and to give back and be thoughtful of people who aren't as blessed as we are,” said Danielle Cosenza of Guilderland, who gathered with her husband Paul and kids Vinny, 11, and Nico, 9.

"I know people were definitely appreciative of it,” said Vinny, a sixth grader.

"I think eventually too when they get even older they'd like to help out in the kitchen making the meals, too,” said Paul.

The Equinox dinner is funded by donations from local businesses, civic groups and private citizens. Money raised plus food, trucks, tables, chairs, cell phones, serving dishes, linens, aprons, soap, towels, and advertising are matched with help from volunteers. All surplus donations are used to assist needy families throughout the year, according to Equinox. Approximately 500 meals are served at the First Presbyterian Church in Albany. The majority are the deliveries within 40 miles of Albany.

A few slots up in line was the DeChalus family from Clifton Park. It became a tradition for them in 2010 after Karen DeChalus’s father died.

“It was kind of a dedication and tribute to my dad and what my parents had instilled in us of giving back to the community,” she said.

Joe Glickman – sporting a felt turkey on his head and pushing a re-designed formerly abandoned shopping cart now dubbed the “Turkey Mobile” – said he also turned to volunteer with Equinox in 2010.

“I was having a bad year and I had a couple friends of mine that had been doing this and they said 'Hey, why don't you come and try this out and step outside of yourself and help others and I think you'll enjoy it.' And after that I was hooked,” Glickman said. “I carried it on and I try to get a group together every year and it's always a pleasure seeing the smiles on people's faces. They might not even see anybody else on Thanksgiving and we come to their door, we bring them a meal, we give them cards and it just really brings true meaning to Thanksgiving and I enjoy it and I'm here every year.”

And there was Michalina Scorzelli of Feura Bush who was proud to introduce her niece, Gabby, 14, from Syracuse to the tradition.

“When you deliver the meals, the people are so grateful and everybody has a story and a lot of the elderly people, they just want to talk so somebody for a minute so that our whole Thanksgiving, that's our favorite part of Thanksgiving,” Michalina said, adding, “There’s hope.”


WNYT Staff

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