By Tim Harfmann
Allan Negron is homeless. His wife and now-adult children left him. And the 58-year-old sleeps at a shelter. But he’ll have a place to spend thanksgiving dinner — CHiPS in Park Slope, Brooklyn. “Have you ever been out there and went hungry? Believe me, you’ll know that this place is a Godsend,” said Negron.
Catholics from nearby St. Francis Xavier Church founded the center in the early 1970s. CHiPS serves 350 meals to nearly 150 people every day.
Wednesday, volunteers were hard at work, dicing and slicing for Thanksgiving. At least 40 turkeys and 100 pounds of potatoes were donated with all the trimmings. Every guest will receive a meal and a to-go tray with leftovers. “They say food fills the soul. It’s healthy for the mind, it’s healthy for the body; and around this time of the year, everybody should have somebody, somewhere, some place to be,” said Janice Lebby. She is the director of the site’s soup kitchen.
Brother Tom Barton, a Franciscan and volunteer, said CHiPS creates a family atmosphere when most the guests don’t have families of their own. “They really are respected, and they really respect each other. That’s the act of faith dynamic,” said Barton.
Negron has been coming to CHiPS for almost a decade. A former construction worker and postal service employee, he’s looking forward to his favorites: turkey, stuffing, and someone to be with. “It’s nice. You sit down, you conversate, you socialize, and have a nice meal. It’s not bad at all,” said Negron.
Negron is grateful and even through his tough time, he hasn’t lost his faith in God. “I ask Him to help me out with the situation that I’m in, and then I leave it all into his hands. Whatever He decides to do, He decides to do.”
CHiPS always welcomes donated food. The center is located at 200 4th Avenue in Brooklyn.