LEWISTON — The Hope House Family Support Center opened the doors of its converted church Wednesday for a pre-Thanksgiving feast, drawing several dozen people despite sloppy weather and slippery conditions.

“People made calls to us Tuesday asking, ‘Please don’t close,'” said Jan Willson, who runs the center at 91 College St. with her husband, Bruce. They never considered canceling. “We worried the snow would keep people away, but some brave folks came out.”

About 100 people had planned to attend. About half that many showed up by 12:30 p.m., 30 minutes after they began serving a home-cooked dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, carrots and related fixings.

The charity has been offering a Thanksgiving meal for about 15 years. There are few rules. Everyone is welcome, particularly people in the surrounding neighborhood north of Sabattus Street and west of Bates College.

People need only bring appetites.

“We’re a community,” Bruce Willson said. “We’re all neighbors.”

He talked of inclusion as he began the meal with a prayer that mentioned God and Allah.

“They’re the same guy,” Willson said. Much of the center’s work is aimed at the local immigrant population and helping young mothers. Support comes from a variety of local churches. 

Wednesday’s meal was prepared by several volunteers, most cooking at home before bringing the completed dishes to the long spread of food.

Besides the traditional Thanksgiving food — Bruce Willson carved the turkey himself with an electric knife — there were a few other foods that spoke to Hope House’s diversity. Triangular pastries prepared by Somali volunteers filled plates alongside turkey legs.

A turkey leg didn’t last long on Hamiso Ibrahim’s plate. The Somali volunteer, who has been in the United States for seven years, said turkey is her favorite part of the holiday meal.

“There are no turkeys in Somalia, only chickens,” she said.

Among the others who turned out were Jessica Hamilton, her husband, Josh, and their children, Emma Leah, 3, and Marcus, who is 16 months old. 

During other parts of the year, Jessica uses the center to pick up needed items or drop off clothes. This day, though she planned a meal with her family for Thursday, she wanted to attend for the simplest of reasons.

“We wanted to be with friends,” she said.

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