LEWISTON — Most people use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to give thanks, as the name implies, but this year Tammy Wilson wanted to use it as a chance to give something from her heart.

Wilson and her husband, James, manage the Travel Inn on Lisbon Street and the Winthrop Motel on Route 202.

She decided that this year, she wanted to serve a grand Thanksgiving meal to the inns’ guests.

The two inns provide extended-stay accommodations and most of their guests are people with no other place to go.

“We’re not a normal motel at all, we’re more like a little community,” she said. “I think being different and showing we care is important.”

Wilson said they used to collect bottles and tips from the guests and use that money to pay for dinners and get-togethers for anyone staying at the inn, but after a while it stopped.

This year, she wanted to bring it back.

“I can’t sit at home and eat when I have people here who can’t,” she said. “I just want to give back. If it weren’t for our customers, I wouldn’t be here.”

Travel Inn guest Robert Hisoire and his family have been staying there for eight months. “If it weren’t for you guys, we’d still be out on the streets,” he said.

The meal included eight turkeys with “all the fixings” including stuffing, gravy, rolls and butter, carrots and potatoes, and banana bread.

“It’s been fun,” Wilson said. With help from her daughter, Taylor, they also prepared nearly 20 pies, including pistachio, raspberry cheesecake and custard.

“If it wasn’t for local businesses helping and donating to us, we wouldn’t be able to do this,” she said. “I was impressed that so many people helped.”

It wasn’t all donations, though.

Wilson celebrated her birthday on Nov. 12 and decided to take the monetary gifts she received and put them toward this meal.

“I did this for these people and it makes me happy,” she said. “I’m glad I did it.”

Some of the food, including the pickles, were tributes to traditions she carried from her dad.

The food, drinks and dessert feast was so abundant that there was barely enough room on the counters and tables in the lobby to fit it all.

“When I told my husband, James, that I was going to do this, he said, ‘How are we gonna fit everyone?’ I told him we’d figure it out,” she said.

Thirty-three people were planning to attend Wilson’s Thanksgiving feast, including guests from both the Lewiston and Winthrop inns. 

Wilson, her husband, brother, two daughters and mother all live at the Travel Inn. They all came to the dinner.

“We’re very family-oriented,” she said.

“It’s a really good idea,” James Wilson said. “It just shows that there are people out there who care. Especially this time of year, there’s a need.”

Wilson said her next project is to hopefully do something similar for Christmas. “We’ll see,” she said. “It’s hard.”

Tammy Wilson talks with guests during Thanksgiving dinner at the Travel Inn in Lewiston on Thursday. Wilson and her husband, James, work and live at the motel and their family prepared and served a Thanksgiving meal to people who are staying there. Wilson used money that she received for her birthday on Nov. 12 to help pay for the gathering. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

“We are not a normal motel,” said the Travel Inn general manager Tammy Wilson. Wilson said that when motel guests would stay a night or two, she would use tip money and money she collected from returnable bottles to pay for such events as her Thanksgiving feast. Now that more of the motel’s guests are extended-stay clients, that money is no longer there. Wilson used money that she received for her birthday on Nov. 12 to help pay for the gathering. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

“They have opened doors for us with open arms in a great time of need,” Robert Hisoire said about Tammy Wilson, right, and her husband James. “Other motels don’t have hearts like they do here,” said Hisoire, who has been staying at the Travel Inn with his family for the past eight months. Wilson is the general manager at the Travel Inn. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Guests staying at the Travel Inn in Lewiston walked over to the motel office to have Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Taylor Wilson sits behind the service desk in the lobby of the Travel Inn while eating Thanksgiving dinner in Lewiston on Thursday. Wilson’s mother and father manage the motel and the Wilson family prepared and served a Thanksgiving meal to people who are staying at the motel. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Kaylee Presby, 7, waits patiently for motel guests, such as Bob, to fill their plate before getting her own Thanksgiving meal at the Travel Inn in Lewiston on Thursday. The Martel Elementary second-grader helped her grandmother, Tammy Wilson, prepare Thanksgiving dinner for 33 people. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Motel guests staying at the Winthrop Motel arrive for a Thanksgiving meal at the Travel Inn in Lewiston on Thursday. Tammy Wilson is the general manager at both motels and invited guests from both to come for dinner. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Robert Hisoire fills his plate during the Thanksgiving dinner hosted by the Travel Inn in Lewiston on Thursday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Jamie Hisoire and her 3-month-old daughter, Aviannah-Rose, wait for Thanksgiving dinner to be served at the Travel Inn in Lewiston on Thursday. The Hisoire family has been living at the motel for the past eight months. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Rebecca Butterfield, Tammy Wilson’s mother, has been living at the Travel Inn for five years. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)


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