As is customary for the last three decades, the Brooklyn District Grand Lodge of Brooklyn-headquartered Grand Council of the Independent United Order of Mechanics, Friendly Society of North, Central and South America, Islands of the Seas and the Entire Western Hemisphere, Inc., known by the abbreviation IUOM, FSWH, Inc., on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, provided warm meals and clothing to over 350 homeless people and members of the community.
Officials of the Executive Committee of Grand Council told Caribbean Life, at IUOM’s headquarters, on Putnam Avenue in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, that many of the people fed were members of the surrounding communities, as well as many Senegalese nationals, housed at the nearby Bedford Armory.
Panamanian-born Hon. Orlando Maxwell, chair of the Thanksgiving Day Committee, said that Guyanese-born Hon. Myrthland Ince, district grand master for Brooklyn District Grand Lodge, assigned him to spearhead the committee. Ince welcomed and thanked attendees and volunteers.
“It’s a pleasure to get this done,” Maxwell told Caribbean Life. “It’s going excellent; people are coming out. So far, so good, and we thank God for that.”
IUOM’s Deputy Grand Master, the Rt. Hon. Glenver R. Jones – who represented his Jamaican-born compatriot, the Most Worshipful Grand Master, the Rt. Hon. Errol G. Collins – said that “even in the pandemic, members of the Brooklyn District Grand Lodge find means to do this.
“I want to tell you thanks,” said Jones in a brief address to members of the Committee and volunteers at IOUM’s headquarters.
“We need more months to consume what we have here,” he added, referring to the prepared, warm home cook meals, and wishing members, volunteers and patrons a Happy Thanksgiving.
Sis. Hyacinth Robinson-Goldson, IUOM’s Jamaican-born community liaison, said that the annual event is the brainchild of the late Trinidadian-born Venerable Past Grand Master Ancil Harding.
“Thanksgiving is a time when families come together to celebrate and give thanks, and this is one of the events where members of the Order come together as one family to give back and welcome those who come and receive a tasty home-cooked meal, or a warm coat with a smile of hope,” she told Caribbean Life.
Robinson-Goldson said that Harding’s vision “has been kept alive by the members and volunteers, who continue to give their time, their donations and contribution to guarantee the success of this important community project.
“It is so gratifying to see that this tradition has continued for over 30 years under successive leadership,” she added.
Vincentian The Rt. Hon. Casper Edwards, a member of the Grand Council, also told Caribbean Life that Harding’s children and grandchildren are still volunteering, among others, to feed the homeless on Thanksgiving Day.
“It’s a wide scope of members of the community who come out to help,” he said. “It has changed a bit, but we still have it going.
“It’s been successful over the years, and we want to tell the community that this is what we do,” Edwards added.
Davina Perez, the daughter of Panamanian-born the Rt. Hon. Cecelio Leacock, former executive grand secretary of the Order, said she has been volunteering to serve Thanksgiving meals for the past 10 years.
She told Caribbean Life that she brings volunteers to the Mechanics’ headquarters every year “to let them see what it’s like to give back,” thanking Sis. Shirley Camino, a Trinidadian-born member of the Committee, for keeping her informed about the annual event.
As in previous years, Perez brought along Howard Collins, a Brooklyn resident with Panamanian roots, to aid in feeding the homeless.
“It’s a privilege,” Collins said.