As the nights grow longer and autumn inches toward winter, excitement fills Riverside’s Clubhouses. Football season is underway (Go Pats!), pumpkin spice coffee has returned, and our annual Thanksgiving dinners are in the works. Riverside’s four Clubhouses each have their own Thanksgiving traditions and celebrations, all of which are based on the principles of gratitude, compassion, and found family. While the dates of these events vary, our Clubhouses remain open on Thanksgiving Day, as everyone deserves an opportunity to spend the holiday with a loving community.
These Clubhouse celebrations have a traditional Thanksgiving atmosphere with a football game or the Macy’s Parade on in the background and the aroma of cornbread, stuffing, and other holiday favorites wafting throughout the building. Just like all tasks at our Clubhouses, members and staff are responsible for preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone contributes, and cooking tends to start at least a week before the event due to oven space and refrigerator capacity. Elliot Clubhouse is expecting up to 70 members, employees, and guests for their celebration – that’s a lot of people to feed!
“I attend the Elliot House Thanksgiving every year, and I love the camaraderie and the food. This year, I’m bringing two guests, and they’ll love it!” said Rita S.
“I come to the Clubhouse on Thanksgiving because it’s better than being alone, and we’re treated very well,” said Neponset River House member Elaine L. “The food is great, and I love knowing that I played a part in it!”
While menus differ between locations, turkey with the fixings, seasonal pies, and various vegetarian options always find their way to the table. Clubhouse personnel reach out to local stores for donations, and family members have gifted full-sized turkeys in the past. Nothing can stop turkey time – employees even cooked and safely delivered Thanksgiving dinners to members during the height of the pandemic!
Though everyone’s always eager to dive in as soon as the meal is ready, members and staff take a moment before eating to share something they’re truly thankful for. After dinner, the good times continue as people enjoy playing cards and board games while eagerly awaiting dessert. Neponset River House also hosts a pajama party the day after Thanksgiving, where members watch movies and enjoy leftovers together.
“I spend every Thanksgiving at the Clubhouse and wouldn’t have it any other way!” said Paul McAlarney, Assistant Program Director at Neponset River House. “I look forward to the weeks leading up to it when everyone at the Clubhouse comes together to churn out towering trays of delicious Thanksgiving essentials from turkey to stuffing to veggies. Every bite of every plate is the culmination of so many people from our community working together.”
Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy a meal with loved ones and reflect on the aspects of life that make you thankful. As evident from years of joyous celebrations, Clubhouse members and employees are sincerely thankful for one another.
Happy Thanksgiving from Riverside’s Clubhouse communities!
Riverside Clubhouses offer people with mental health challenges hope and opportunities to achieve their full potential through employment and recovery. Clubhouses go beyond programs or social services by giving members the opportunity to be part of a restorative, stigma-free community. For more information, view our Clubhouse webpage.
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