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November 26. 2013 9:56PM

Diners give thanks at Partnership for Successful Living's 13 holiday dinner


Gov. Maggie Hassan dishes out turkey on Tuesday at Harbor Homes in Nashua where the city's homeless and less fortunate gathered to celebrate an early Thanksgiving. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON PHOTO)

NASHUA — Despite the hardships and challenges facing so many residents in Greater Nashua, those less fortunate gathered on Tuesday to give thanks for what they do have — each other.

"I don't have any family to go to, so this is wonderful," said Dorothea Riback of Nashua, who attended the 13th annual Thanksgiving Dinner hosted by the Partnership for Successful Living.

While trying her first bite of turkey served by Gov. Maggie Hassan, Riback said she is grateful to have a warm place to visit and a hot meal."I don't have an oven at home, so I really can't cook a turkey. This is perfect," said Riback.

About 350 people packed Harbor Homes on High Street for the annual Thanksgiving dinner to feed the homeless and less fortunate in the city. Dozens of turkeys and hundreds of pounds of potatoes and vegetables were served while visitors enjoyed live music, dessert and goody bags.

For people like Raymond Martin Sr., the dinner event is a way to give back to an organization that has done so much for him.

"I volunteer every year. Harbor Homes has done so much for me — I will do anything for them," said Martin, explaining the organization helped him obtain an apartment that he is now occupying on Vine Street.

Martin said he is saddened that there are still homeless men and women living on the streets in Nashua, adding he wishes he could do something more to help those in need.

Dozens of people took advantage of a warm place to sit, a hot meal and even leftovers."A lot of people don't have family in the area. This is their family," said Jennifer Ceballos, development associate and volunteer coordinator with Partnership for Successful Living. "This has become a holiday tradition for many of these people who return each year. This is their community support network."

Local farms donated many of the supplies, and Celebrations Distinctive Catering of Nashua cooked the turkeys, while culinary students at Nashua High School North prepared the side dishes.

The free meal was a blessing for John Bill of Nashua, who said he couldn't find a ride to spend Thanksgiving with his parents in Dover.

"This will be the only holiday meal I have," said Bill. "I can save a few food stamps today, so this will help extend my food budget."

He said the plate full of turkey, potatoes, squash, cranberry sauce and vegetables was delicious. The company, however, was even better, he said.

Samantha Cassista of the Partnership for Successful Living agreed, saying even though the event is circled around food, it is also about getting people together to socialize and give thanks during the holiday season.

khoughton@newstote.com


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