People come together at LB Thanksgiving dinner feast

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Guests at the Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly Thanksgiving dinner in Hancock sing along as Amanda Plummer plays guitar Thursday. Volunteers made about 120 meals at the site, one of nine to offer dinners.

HANCOCK — Guests and volunteers alike enjoy the community of the Thanksgiving dinners at Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly.

Little Brothers served Thanksgiving dinners at Baraga, Calumet, Hancock, Houghton, Marquette, Mohawk, Ontonagon, South Range and Tapiola. 

Guests filled their bellies with meals of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and more, as well as pies and a champagne toast.

At Hancock, there were about 120 meals prepared for 70 guests and 30 to 40 volunteers, said head cook Jim Slater.

Michigan Technological University prepares the turkey ahead of time. As for the rest, volunteers begin preparing the meal at 9 a.m. 

Slater’s been volunteering with Little Brothers for the past six years. 

“I didn’t want to sit at home by myself on Thanksgiving either,” he said. “I could come in here and feed a bunch of other people that don’t want to be by themselves. It just grew from there. I’ve been doing all of the holiday meals since.”

Lead volunteer Emily Fiala became involved after first moving to the area. With no other family in the area, Little Brothers became a holiday family for her. 

“People come and go, and now the people our age are starting to sit at the tables as the elders,” she said. “Someday I guess we will too, but not yet.”

For Fiala, the highlight of the dinners is seeing other people. 

“We have people that come here for the dinner that don’t even live here – they’re from Atlantic Mine people,” she said. “They come here because they tried some other ones, they like this one. Or maybe they started here because they have friends living in Hancock. It’s family, and bringing in new people as they show up.”

Alice Porter began coming seven years ago, when she moved up here to live with her daughter, Cindy Zimmermann of Hancock. 

“I come for the friendship certainly, and the food is wonderful,” Porter said. “Everything is wonderful.”

Porter’s favorite is the pumpkin pie; Zimmermann liked the turkey. 

This was the first Little Brothers dinner since the death of Ken Steiner, the longtime head cook for the Hancock dinners. 

“He was here last Christmas, not cooking, because he was supposed to be sitting down,” Fiala said. He still watched the kitchen from a stool, Fiala said. 

Rita Moilanen began volunteering with Little Brothers 16 years ago, when she began going with a group of friends. She’s since moved to Houghton. But she and her friends, some of whom she’s known since childhood, still come to Hancock’s site at the Church of the Resurrection. 

“As I get older, some of them say ‘The only time we get to see her is the holidays,’ so they would come over here and say ‘We come over here and have dinner so we get to see you,'” she said.