Many of us will spend the next few days with friends and family, sharing meals and opening gifts. But for the poor, homeless and hungry, the holidays can present special challenges.
“I would think the holidays … could be a really difficult time for someone who might not have family or might not have the means to provide the gifts or the food that are so traditionally associated with the holiday,” said Kate Wadsworth, public relations manager for Light of Life Rescue Mission.
Light of Life, located on the North Side, extended its dinner hours on Monday. Wadsworth said they expect to serve about 900 meals before the day is through, and in addition to serving meals at the mission, volunteers delivered hot meals to low-income and elderly residents in local high-rise buildings.
Troy Milbourne, who currently lives in the Light of Life shelter, enjoyed a meal of ham, potatoes, vegetables, lemonade and chocolate cake. Milbourne said he lost his job and his home after being diagnosed with prostate cancer a little more than a year ago and that he is working on getting back on his feet.
“I just want my life back. I want to get back to work and be independent again,” said Millbourne. “I need to get a place … I’m just going to hang in there until then.”
Light of Life also offered winter coats, hats and scarves to anyone who needs them.
Joseph Conforti, a sculptor living in Bethel Park, has volunteered to serve meals at the mission for the last four years. He said he and his sister and his four nieces and nephews started the tradition after his sister lost her husband in 2010.
“Christmas was really tough, so we decided, you know what, instead of just sitting around and feeling bad about ourselves, we wanted to help other people as well,” said Conforti. “We got the idea that first year that we should volunteer, so we got in touch with Light of Life and that’s how we started doing it.”
Wadsworth said she and the other Light of Life staff are incredibly grateful to all their volunteers and donors.
“People in Pittsburgh are very generous, and really give of their time and of their money to help make this possible,” said Wadsworth. “It’s really a community effort.”