Local rest home residents enjoy annual holiday meal

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, November 20, 2007

“Thirty-something years ago,” Brookhaven resident Zack Moak’sheart told him to organize a Thanksgiving feast that rest homeresidents could enjoy together.

So he put his nose to the grindstone and began working to puttogether an event that would allow residents of the nursing homesto gather for a holiday celebration.

“I’ve been in the rest home ministry all these years, because Ifigured it was one of the best things I could do for them,” Moaksaid.

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Moak himself is almost 85 years old. And every Thanksgivingholiday for as long as some people can remember, he has puttogether his Nursing Home Ministry Thanksgiving Luncheon.

This year’s was held at Western Sizzlin, and fully one half ofthe restaurant was full of senior citizens and their family membersand friends. Residents of all of Lincoln County’s rest homescrowded in a week before Thanksgiving to enjoy good fellowship andgreat food.

“This gives them the chance to get out of the rest homes and eatwith their friends,” he said. “It lets them have fun.

“And if you look around the room, everyone is, and everyone hasa smile on their faces.”

The first few years had a good turnout. But compared toattendance this year, it was sparse.

Through the years, Moak said, the numbers have grown with thetimes.

“It wasn’t nearly this many when we started,” he said. “But itincreased as we went on. I suppose the rest home numbers haveincreased.”

And one of the most touching aspects of the yearly dinner is thechance for old friends to reunite, Moak said. Many of the rest homeresidents have been separated from their comrades simply by movingto different retirement homes and being unable to visit back andforth.

“They get to see people they haven’t seen in a year and don’tsee until they come here every year,” he said. “That’s one of thereasons we do this. But it’s also a great way to start off theholiday season.”

Moak said all the area rest homes come to the event each year.He makes it his personal job to see to it that all the residents ofeach one are invited.

“It’s just a joy for me to do this, and I do it because I knowhow they feel about it,” he said. “I’m in the nursing homes twotimes a week, so they all know me, and while I don’t know every oneof them, I know most of them.”

From some of the elderly attendees of the luncheon, the eventmight be the only Thanksgiving feast they get to attend. And someof the people they see that they’ve known all their lives are theonly family they’ll see for the holiday.

“Some of these people will be with their families onThanksgiving day, but some of them don’t have family anymore,” Moaksaid. “If I had this on Thanksgiving day, can you imagine how muchthe crowd would go down?”

But the other reason Moak has the event a week ahead ofThanksgiving is because he has his own blood relatives to think ofas well.

“I’m with my family on Thanksgiving,” he said. “I get to be withmy family, too.”