ROSELLE, NJ — Mayor Donald Shaw, the Borough Council and the Roselle Recreation Department presented Roselle’s 10th annual Senior Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner at the Anthony Amalfe Community Center, 1268 Shaffer Ave., Roselle, on Friday, Nov. 19.
“We’re having a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for our seniors here in Roselle,” community center recreation aide Melanie Daniels said on Friday, Nov. 19. “It’s going quite well. … Lisa Dillard of Dillard’s catering in Roselle is catering for this event. Involved in this event is our recreation leader, Gina Simms, and recreation aide Rodney Tibbs. Rodney and I run the community center and Gina does the overall recreation program. This is just one of the things that we’re going to be doing for our seniors over the holidays. … We had to put some people on a waiting list because we had almost 80 people, so we have at least 75 people here.”
Serving the seniors that night were 10 high school students from the nonprofit organization Concrete Rose Project, which has a mission to empower today’s youth by guiding them toward a path of success and away from the negative social factors that are plaguing society today. Seniors had an array of foods on the menu to choose from, including turkey, sweet potatoes, ham, mashed potatoes, salad, coleslaw, string beans, macaroni and cheese, desert and refreshments.
“The kids are from Concrete Rose Project, which is a nonprofit organization that meets here at the community center. … They are here helping to serve the seniors tonight,” Daniels said. “We do other things around the holidays and we also do a Christmas luncheon at a restaurant. I’m glad we were able to have this this year. …. We can see that there is a need for something like this, and the people do want to come out for it and they will come out for it. People are ready to get out, and we try to take all the precautions that we can. They do enjoy themselves when they come out here.”
Overseeing the event was Donna Eleazer, founding member and vice president of Concrete Rose Project, who explained what the mentoring program’s role was that night and with other upcoming senior events.
“This is our first community service project and we’re here to give back and help the seniors at this dinner,” Eleazer said on Friday, Nov. 19. “The event was planned by the Roselle Recreation (Department) and my role in this was to give back. We wanted to give back to the community. Through COVID, we’ve been having our program virtually, but now, since things are opening back up, this is our first community service project for the year and we voted to do this, to come out and help support since this was in person.
“I’m very happy to see the seniors out,” she continued. “They’ve been in closed doors through this whole pandemic, and I think they’re happy to be out. So, to see the smiles on their faces and see them eating all of this good food that’s been catered by Dillard’s … I’m very happy. The mayor’s Senior Advisory Committee is providing services for the seniors, also. We had a bus ride to Wind Creek Casino two weeks ago; 55 people went and they were very excited. We’re also having a pre-holiday luncheon on Dec. 10 here at the community center.”
Tibbs said the pre-Thanksgiving meal was something the community needed.
“This event was much needed for the community, because it lets people know things are getting back to a sense of normalcy,” said Tibbs on Friday, Nov. 19. “The seniors are enjoying each other’s company. Seniors need to be able to talk to one another. The turnout was great, and I’m hoping this event will be bigger next year.”
Photos by EmilyAnn Jackman