PLATTSBURGH — Gratitude is a verb for Dennis King.
“You show your gratefulness by helping others and for being there for them,” King, director of Peer Engagement & Recovery Services at the MHAB Life Skills addiction recovery center, explained.
On Thursday, King was one of a team of volunteers and staffers at the Plattsburgh-based facility who worked to pack and share free Thanksgiving dinners for the community.
WE CAN KEEP GOING
MHAB, which opened in the summer of 2019, hosted a sit-down Thanksgiving meal for about 200 clients and visitors last year.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the facility to rethink its plans for this year, but both King and MHAB founder and president Michael Carpenter still saw a need to give back.
“We felt the community still needs this uplifting to show that we made it through some pretty hard times this year and that we can continue and keep going,” King said.
By Thursday afternoon, the event had shared about 175 meals with all the classics: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce.
“And then we had four kinds of pie: apple, apple crumb, blueberry and pumpkin,” King said.
Those dozens of meals included 80 meals delivered to homes by the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Champlain Valley.
“We tried to go where people needed us,” Carpenter said.
For those who came to pick up their meals in person, COVID-19 safety measures were in place including temperature checks and screening questionnaires at the door and mask-wearing enforced.
Asked what he was thankful for this Thanksgiving, King said he was grateful to be free of active addiction, having not had a drink or drug since May 7, 2011.
“Because of the community up here in Plattsburgh and Clinton County that welcomed me and accepted me for who I was, I felt it was my turn to give back to the people who need it and hopefully that they can get that message of hope and maybe next year they can come here and help us out or help out other people in the community,” he said.
Speaking about what the MHAB center offers to people struggling with addiction, King pointed to four words: community, connection, purpose and “continue.”
If you have a connection to your community and find a purpose, King said, then people can “continue” carrying on through life.
And the MHAB center offers that connection, community and purpose.
“We need each other to do it, and I think that’s what this center is all about,” he said.