The Castaic Lions Club, in partnership with the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, hosted its annual Thanksgiving meal at the SCV Senior Center on Thursday afternoon.
Every year on Thanksgiving Day, the Castaic Lions Club volunteers to provide a hot meal to seniors for the nationally recognized holiday and bring in a sense of home and family to senior citizens in the SCV.
The years-long tradition was started by Flo Lawrence and Allan Cameron from the Castaic Lions Club. The club has continued the tradition in honor of them both.
“They were our leaders and they both passed away a couple of years ago,” said SCV Senior Center CEO Kevin MacDonald. “The Senior Center always wanted to do Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving day. This is for people who, where else would they go for Thanksgiving? It’s all adopted family here.”
“Thats why we do it actually on the day, which is kind of special.”
The dining hall at the Senior Center had dozens of tables filled with people enjoying their meals and socializing. In attendance were an estimated of 300 people. Some attendees enjoyed their meals outside under the warm sun on the patio.
The SCV Senior Center at Bella Vida helps senior citizens with recreational activities, health and wellness programs, and support groups. It also provides hot meals to individuals throughout the week.
MacDonald added that cooks were working since 5 a.m. to ensure attendees enjoyed their meal and felt the spirit of the holiday.
Lee Shapiro has been involved with the Castaic Lions Club for 22 years and during his time he has participated in numerous volunteer opportunities where he gets to spread joy and be of service in the community.
Shapiro has participated in numerous holiday festivities such as the annual Santa Claus Christmas Float activity, dressing up as Santa Claus for children in the Castaic community, and volunteers every year on Thanksgiving Day to provide food for seniors.
“We basically ask other people who would like to help us for the day. My wife is her first time coming to this. Last year my brother who lives in San Diego came up for this,” said Shapiro. “It’s a thing that is so great, (and) that brings the community together. And these people love the idea. Besides serving them food we sit and talk to them. (We ask) ‘How’s your grandkids? Are you going to see to the grandkids today? How about your family?’ We have conversations with them so that’s what it’s all about.”
“When they get up and leave they turn and they want to hug us and say thanks. That means so much, that we’ve done this at least one day in their life.”
Bill Montgomery, an 82-year-old law enforcement and Navy veteran, was looking for a recreational center for seniors when he came across the SCV Senior Center.
“My wife passed away five years ago. So basically, I’m alone, and I’ve been looking for a senior center for some time but all I could locate on the internet was residential,” Montgomery said. “I happen to spot in the Yellow Pages. Just one line: Senior Center and the telephone number … so here I am.”
He added he was shy, and the Thanksgiving lunch was his first activity at the senior center.
“The table was full but they were all communicating with each other. I wasn’t involved in the communication. I will, however, in the future, start communicating. Right now, I’m kind of exploring.”
Montgomery has been a local resident near La Mesa Junior High School since 1999.
Throughout the Thanksgiving lunch, attendees enjoyed their meals while also meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends.