Goodwill workers honored at Thanks-for-giving dinner

Published in The Boston Globe Nov. 24

They fanned out to covered tables, wearing white aprons and carrying plates filled with staples of the annual feast — spoonfuls of sweet potatoes, slices of carved turkey, and, later, pumpkin pie.

But the Thanksgiving servers were some of the city and state’s most powerful leaders, seeking to provide about 250 workers a treat Wednesday at the Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries in Roxbury.

“Make sure you don’t tell anyone I have an apron on,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo to the hall. “I do it strictly for you.”

The annual Thanks-for-Giving Dinner has become a way to celebrate the holiday and the community, said Joanne Hilferty, president and chief executive of Morgan Memorial Goodwill. “It’s a chance to celebrate what everyone has accomplished,” she said. “It really helps everyone in our program feel valued.”

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh thanked program participants and officials for coming together for the celebration, praising “everyone at Goodwill and Goodwill for the great work that you do every single day for everyone in the city.”

Attorney General Maura Healey, who served stuffing, said Thanksgiving is about love and compassion.

“We are in a time right now when we need to see one another through the eyes of that other person,” she said, “and that’s what today is all about.”

Governor Charlie Baker thanked guests for their hard work across the city and state.

“They do it when the cameras aren’t on and they do it when nobody is watching,” he said. “They do it because they believe in it and they care about their fellow man.”

After the remarks, people gathered near the live band, dancing to “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison. Baker twirled a few women around the floor.

After eating a slice of pie, Joshua Olson walked around the hall to watch people dance. Olson said he has been working at Goodwill since 2005 and is thankful for what he has learned on the job.

“I’m really happy here,” said Olson, 38, of Brookline. “It’s the first place that has been really good. I’ve been in other programs, but they’re nothing compared to this. It’s the best of the best.”

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