BY PAUL PRADO
For the Record Gazette
The Beaumont-Cherry Valley Rotary Club held their 50th Annual Senior Thanksgiving Dinner at the Albert A. Chatigny Sr. Community Center in Beaumont last Saturday.
Rotarian Joanna Evans spearheaded the event, geared towards senior citizens.
“It is incredible to learn how many seniors are in need,” Evans said. “I’m always happy when Thanksgiving comes around. We want seniors to know that someone cares. This event definitely gets that point across.”
Evans is also glad see the teenagers that participate in the Rotary’s volunteer Interact Club helping others.
“One of the purposes of bringing in our youth is for them to see that the lives of seniors matter,” said Evans. “Seniors hold a special place in our hearts, and to see the Interact students giving up their time to serve is great.”
Some of the Interact students drove a golf cart to ferry seniors who had to park at a distance away from the entrance of the center.
“It’s awesome to have a lot of volunteers this year,” said Marcelina Fernandez.
Fernandez, a freshman at Riverside City College, was glad to be of service.
“It’s great to spread positivity,” said Fernandez.
“It’s good to give love and cheer, especially at this time of year when there is a need.”
Rotarian Matt Pistilli, a former Beaumont school board member, has been preparing the Thanksgiving meal for over 20 years.
“I’ve always enjoyed doing good things for the community and people,” Pistilli said. “It was the way that I was raised, and I’m still doing it. I’ll help whenever they need me.”
Pistilli prefers to stay out of the limelight and work in the background, relegating himself primarily to the kitchen, preparing food. “I like to just get things done and make a difference. When people enjoy themselves and leave happy, we’ve done a great thing.”
Guests started entering the community center around 11 that morning.
Banning resident Patricia Long was among the first to arrive.
“I’ve been attending the Thanksgiving dinner for over 14 years,” said Long. “The friends that I used to come with have either moved away or passed on. It’s kind of sad. I’m a Texan, and we always got together with other folks.”
Long enjoys the dinner, the help and the entertainment.
“This is the only turkey that I’ll get this year,” Long said. “The meal is just delicious. Everything is cooked just right. I like to see the teenagers helping. That’s very kind of them.”
Beaumont’s mayor Mike Lara stopped by to help serve.
Lara congratulated the Rotarians on their 50th year of good service to the community.
Rotarian Bruce Murrill leads the Interact youth community service group.
“I’ve been doing this for 28 years,” said Murrill. “This dinner gives me a good feeling. Look at everyone smiling. The seniors see old friends and make new ones.”
Beaumont-Cherry Valley Rotary President Susan Aguilar-Martinez was delighted that the Thanksgiving dinner took place in-person this year.
“We are very excited to have our annual event, after being away because of the COVID pandemic,” she said. “We get to see our seniors and we get to serve them a good meal. This year we think we will be serving around 100 seniors, but the count may go up to 130.”
In past years, 250 seniors were served by Rotary’s members. For the 50th Anniversary, the Thanksgiving dinner honored the late longtime Rotarian Lyle Millage, who passed away in 2017.
Millage was the event’s founder and an admired Rotarian. His image was on the table tents and placemats.
When the food came out, the seniors dined on a hot Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, and of course, pumpkin pie.