The 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, on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, provided meals to 375 homeless persons and members of the community.
“The patrons looked forward to this yearly event and, from my prospective, they showed, in their own individual ways, a genuine appreciation for the act of kindness that was shown to them,” Galroi Mikriis, the African American chairman of the Thanksgiving Day Committee, told Caribbean Life about the collaboration with the Community Affairs Department of the NYPD’s 88th Precinct, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn and Brooklyn New Horizon Lion Club.
“As I sat back and observed the events unfold, I was able to take it all in – our cause, the community in which we were serving and how they interacted with not just the members of the IUOM but also (with) two other invited entities – namely, members from the local Community Affairs Department of the NYPD and members from the local Lion’s International Organization,” added Mikriis about the Luncheon, which took place at IUOM’s headquarters at 65 Putnam Ave. in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
“It was, indeed, a joy to observe three organizations come together for the betterment of the community in which they serve,” continued Mikriis, IUOM’s District Grand Assistant Secretary.
Hosting Grand Master Guyanese-born Myrtland Ince, IUOM’s District Grand Master, said patrons were “very appreciative of our contribution to them.
“We found out by doing this that the less fortunate are not the only ones that benefit from our program,” he told Caribbean Life. “Some people do not have a family structure on that special day of Thanksgiving, and just need to have a meal and spend time with the company, and we can provide for them.
“Because of the pandemic, we had to scale back and serve dinners in a grab-and-go format,” added Ince about the event that has taken place annually for the past 34 years. “This year, we were able to return to some sort of stability, which allowed us to provide that ‘family feel’.”
Retired Trinidad and Tobago school teacher Shirley T. Carmino wore two hats among 40-odd volunteers during the Thanksgiving Luncheon.
As secretary of IUOM’s Excelsior Chapter #1, the oldest chapter in the Brooklyn jurisdiction, Carmino served as secretary of the Thanksgiving Committee and as president of the Brooklyn New Horizon Lion Club.
She said members of her club distributed care packages to patrons, as well as helped in serving Thanksgiving meals.
Carmino said Brooklyn New Horizon Lion Club usually distribute the packages at Fulton Street and Franklyn Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
“For me the best you can do in this life, especially now, is to give service and give service from the heart,” said IUOM’s Past Worthy Illustrative Matron, who helped coordinate the Thanksgiving Luncheon, disclosing that the meal was prepared by IUOM’s members and well-wishers.
“The patrons seemed to be quite happy interacting with our members,” added IUOM’s Past Eminent Commander, stating that clothing, coats and shoes were among other items also distributed. “I actually saw someone take off what he was wearing and walked away with a clean new shirt – made me smile.
“Some seemed happy to just come out of the cold and have a cup of coffee,” Carmino continued. “Patrons had choices when it comes to the food. They said what they wanted and were free to ask for more, if they so desired.
“I think the patrons enjoyed the meal, because it was sumptuous, and they were to sit in comfort, if they so desired,” she said. “I am grateful that I can continue to be of service.”
Mikriis said the planning and preparation for the Thanksgiving Luncheon “came full circle on the day of execution (Thanksgiving Day).
“It’s one thing to plan it, but to ensure that all the pieces work in concert with each other is not always a given,” he said, lauding committee members for the successful luncheon.
“Though many contributed in a variety of ways, a special thanks goes out to my Committee Co-Chair Sis. Catherine Williams, Committee Secretary Sis. Shirley Carmino, Committee Stalwart Sis. Helen Rodney and a whole host of committee members, who gave of themselves, in the background.”