Thackrah helping the homeless near her Greensburg home
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Late last year, Debbie Thackrah noticed homeless people along the trail in Greensburg where she goes for her morning run.
She viewed that as an obvious need in her community, so she decided to do something about it.
Ms. Thackrah founded Feeding the Spirit, which provides an "hour of grace" and a hot meal to anyone who needs it.
"We're ... not only feeding and nourishing the body, but what we're really doing is nourishing the soul," she said.
Feeding the Spirit held its first dinner Nov. 3 and since then has had an hour-long dinner at 5:30 p.m. every Thursday at Otterbein United Methodist Church in Greensburg. Thirty-six people showed up at the first dinner, and nearly 100 attended during the first week in April, Ms. Thackrah said.
She said she wanted to create the sense of family that's associated with sitting down to dinner, and that a sense of community already is settling in among those who attend. One person who had been coming to the Thursday dinners died last month, and about 20 people from Feeding the Spirit attended the funeral.
No one is turned away, and in addition to a meal, there's a "take me table" where people can help themselves to items such as clothes, toiletries and pet food.
All of the food for the Thursday dinners is donated, and volunteers pick up the food, keep it hot, serve it and wash the dishes afterward.
Rizzi DeFabo, owner of Rizzo's Malabar Inn in Crabtree, was one of the first restaurants to donate food to Feeding the Spirit.
"They made it easy for the donors," Mr. DeFabo said. "All they need from you is the cooked food."
He said the dinners have been successful because Feeding the Spirit has so much local support.
"I really thought they were taking on a big endeavor, but they've seemed to get a good response," he said. He has donated food for 70 people for three dinners, "and their numbers are growing."
Mr. DeFabo said he's glad to help an organization that directly impacts local people.
"We're helping the people who need it right here in Greensburg," he said.
Feeding the Spirit will hold a fundraiser offering food, bands and an auction from 6 to 9 p.m. May 19 at Bar Rizzi in Crabtree. The event will raise money to fund Thursday night programs for children and elderly people, among other things. Tickets are $35. Ms. Thackrah also said she's concerned about outgrowing the donated space in Otterbein church, so she might need to consider renting a building or having the dinners at different locations.
For more information or to make a donation: www.feedspirit.org.
First Published April 19, 2012 5:00 am