by Sue Ann Rybak
Chestnut Hill resident Rich D’Angelo, 43, said it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Face to Face’s Annual 27th Turkey Trot. Since moving to Chestnut Hill roughly nine years ago, he and his family have participated in the Turkey Trot five-mile run and one-mile fun run/walk along the Wissahickon Creek in Fairmount Park.
Face to Face, 123 E. Price St., is a nonprofit human service organization dedicated to alleviating hunger and suffering by meeting the basic needs of those living in poverty.
All the proceeds from the Turkey Trot, which starts at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 28, (Thanksgiving Morning) at Northwestern Avenue and Forbidden Drive, benefit and support the organization’s many social service programs, including the dining room.
D’Angelo, who volunteers at Face to Face Germantown, said the dining room helps to alleviate hunger by serving homemade meals at noon five days per week and a hot breakfast four days per week.
“People go there for hot, nourishing meals and camaraderie,” he said. “It’s also a place to get washed or receive a new set of clothes. Face to Face even has a legal center, a nurse-managed health center and an art studio. It’s a good place to go for a helping hand.
"From a volunteer perspective, we are showing guests hospitality – serving them as if we are serving guests in our own homes,” he explained. “Compared to other volunteering that I have done where hot meals are provided, I think it's really nice that meals are actually served at the table at Face to Face. It helps to create an environment where each guest is the equal of each staff member and volunteer."
D’Angelo said that by simply serving meals in this manner and treating each other with dignity, volunteers and staff get a chance to know guests on a deeper level.
“Many guests return to the dining room on a regular basis, stories emerge and relationships are built,” he said. “Through the relationships that are formed in the dining room, guests are referred to other Face to Face programs to address their individual needs.”
Face to Face’s motto is “hospitality, mutuality and transformation.”
Mary Kay Meeks-Hank, executive director of Face to Face, said everyone is welcome at Face to Face.
“The hallmark of our work is hospitality,” she said. “In contrast to the treatment our guests often experience in the broader society, Face to Face recognizes the value and contribution of every person who steps across our threshold. Each guest is met where they are and receives what they need to overcome both immediate and long-term obstacles. Our guests leave knowing that they are cared for, respected and valued.”
Meeks-Hank said last year, Face to Face “served 33,994 meals and provided thousands of take-home lunch bags.
“The nutrient-rich meals Face to Face serves, made from fresh ingredients from our partnership with Carversville Farm and our own garden, improves the diet of our guests which positively impacts their health,” she said. “Nearly 75% of guests report that they have learned to eat healthier since coming to Face to Face. In July, we implemented a weekly free, choice fresh produce market to further reduce hunger and improve nutrition.
“The money raised at the Turkey Trot provides our neighbors in great need with meals, health care, access to legal and social services, a place to create community and even get a shower,” she said. “At the heart of our service is the belief that the dignity afforded our guests is simply their due. The generosity of the Turkey Trot sponsors and runners is a beautiful extension of their own Thanksgiving tables into Germantown. Each person makes a real difference in so many lives.”
Meeks-Hank added that Rich and his wife, Bridget D'Angelo, 39, truly understand how one person can make a difference in other people’s lives and try to create opportunities for their 7-year-old son, Luca, to practice gratitude.
She said Luca recently asked his father to build a lemonade stand to sell lemonade at the Fall for the Arts Festival, and they agreed to donate the money raised to Face to Face. Luca must have sold a lot of lemonade, because he was able to raise roughly $200.
“Volunteers like Rich and his family show all of us what our world could be if each of us truly saw one another, took the needs of others seriously and acted in such a way as to make life better for all of us,” she said. “What a world that would be!”
To register for the 27th Annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day at Forbidden Drive and Northwestern Drive on Face to Face's website. Sue Ann Rybak can be reached at email@example.com or 215-248-8804.