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Holiday lunch realization of late mayor’s dream

This Thanksgiving, First United Methodist Church of Brookhavenwill realize a dream of one of its late members as it hosts thefirst of a planned annual event called the Doug Sullivan CommunityThanksgiving Luncheon.

Preparations are being made to serve a free Thanksgiving lunchto people in the community from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. in thechurch’s Ministry Center, the new multi-purpose complex with alarge, commercial kitchen that has made the late Sullivan’s dream areal possibility.

Sullivan, a former mayor of Brookhaven, had always pursued theidea for his church to host a Thanksgiving lunch for the community,said his wife Karen. Sullivan, though, passed away in July 2007,four months before his dream could come to fruition.

Sullivan did not live to see his plans carried out because thechurch formerly did not possess the resources to host the event.But now, with the recent completion of its new Ministry Center – amulti-purpose facility with a large, commercial kitchen -Sullivan’s plan is going forward.

“It (the Ministry Center) gives us the opportunity to do this,”said Dr. Wayne Webster, FUMC’s pastor. “The old kitchen in the oldbuilding would have made this very difficult, but now we finallyhave the room.”

With the necessary room acquired, volunteers and donations havemade the community luncheon possible. Webster singled out churchmember Jennifer Calhoun as instrumental in organizing theevent.

After six weeks of preparation, Calhoun was able to name a longlist of businesses, schools and local churches that have hostedfood drives and provided volunteers for the luncheon. The churchhas also joined with Brookhaven Outreach Ministries in theendeavor.

“We’re particularly targeting former recipients of theBrookhaven outreach program,” Webster said. “We’re also working toreach some of the elderly and those that live in federally assistedapartments.”

With the resources of the church and the outreach programcombined, the Doug Sullivan Community Thanksgiving Luncheon willprovide open doors to the entire community, arrange fortransportation for those who cannot arrive at the church on theirown and even make a small number of deliveries on ThanksgivingDay.

“We’re going to serve people who need serving,” said KarenSullivan. “It was always a big desire of Doug’s to serve thecommunity with a Thanksgiving lunch, and everyone is invited tocome. You don’t need any reservations.”

The entire activity will operate on the sweat of volunteers.Webster said some of his church’s families have decided to havetheir own Thanksgiving dinners with the community at the MinistryCenter to ensure the luncheon’s success.

One volunteer that may join the effort next year is Rose “Polly”Powell, the owner of Polly’s Restaurant, who has provided a similarcommunity Thanksgiving lunch since she moved back to Brookhavenfrom Los Angeles in 2004.

“We used to offer a free Thanksgiving lunch in L.A.,” Powellsaid. “It was a celebrity lunch. We had aldermen and policeofficers and other officials who would serve the food to thepublic. So, when I came back home, I wanted to get that goinghere.”

Powell had the “celebrities,” such as Brookhaven Chief of PolicePap Henderson, whom she said volunteered for the lunch every year,serving food to the public in shifts. The accumulation andpreparation of the food was handled by Powell’s family.

Due to illnesses in her family, Powell is out of town thisThanksgiving and will not host her Thanksgiving Roast, but she issupporting the efforts of the First United Methodist Church fromafar.

“I told everyone who helps me on Thanksgiving to help them (thechurch),” she said.

As for next year, Powell said she would “be back in swinging,”but most likely in the service of the church.

“If the church does good, I’ll probably just help the churchnext year,” she said. “As long as somebody is doing it onThanksgiving, that’s all that matters.”

For more information about the Doug Sullivan CommunityThanksgiving Luncheon, or to arrange for transportation to theevent, interested people may call the church office at (601)833-3519.