"Honestly, at the beginning, I never could have imagined that it would have grown to reach the level of community service and community involvement that it currently has reached," said New Frontier Assistant Secretary Michael Dean. "When we started ... it was just my hope that we would be able to provide a meal that would help some people and hopefully inspire them to appreciate what Thanksgiving is about and that is showing love for one another. In the nine years that we've been doing this, it's totally amazing how we've been able to influence so many other different services that have benefited our guests [to participate in] the dinner to now I think our dinner is comparable to the one that exists in Atlanta, Ga., and that is the Hosea Williams dinner.
"The very first year we hosted the dinner at our facility, which is located at 151 Firetower Road, we were able to reach our goal that day. We were able to provide meals for approximately 300 guests. My expectation [this year] is to have enough food to accommodate at least 4,000 guests. But more importantly I want to make sure that this year we have enough toys, school supplies, coats .... [that] we have enough of those items to ensure that no one leaves without everything we're offering."
To help meet the needs of the community, New Frontier's 32 members already are planning for the event that will be held Nov. 20 at the Cartersville Civic Center. The annual event is the largest outreach project of the black men's group, a nonprofit organization that also provides academic scholarships.
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Feed the Community Dinner will provide a free meal, consisting of turkey, ham, dressing with gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potato souffle, green beans, rolls, peas and carrots, cranberry sauce, tea, lemonade and assorted desserts.
Some of the on-site services that will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. will include barber and beautician stations, dispersal of toys and school supplies, and a health fair that will feature diabetes analysis and blood pressure, hearing and cholesterol checks. Last year, about 2,500 people were fed at the event and nearly 1,500 individuals utilized at least one of the on-site services.
"Knowing that at least for one day you're having a profound impact on the community in a positive manner," said New Frontier President Bryan Canty about what he enjoys most about assisting the Feed the Community Dinner. "Not that it's designated specifically for indigent people, but to know that some who will come in are at least going to eat to their fill for that day [makes it worthwhile]. [At the dinner,] you see people of all ages, all colors coming together for the betterment of the community as a whole."
To ensure that everyone is accommodated at the dinner, New Frontier is seeking volunteers and financial donations. With 4,000 diners anticipated, the nonprofit is trying to raise $15,000 to cover expenses. Last year's expenditures were about $12,000.
For more information about volunteer opportunities, call William Solomon at 404-625-3880. Details about making a financial donation can be obtained by contacting Dean at 678-778-8783. Monetary donations also can be mailed to New Frontier of Bartow County Inc.; Attention: Feed the Community Dinner Committee; P.O. Box 1891; Cartersville, GA 30120.