Mike ladles gravy into a tray of Turkey for Thanksgiving meals.

Ladling out love and dignity

How kitchen staff like Mike make holidays special every year

It was St. Vincent de Paul's busiest day of the year: Thanksgiving. And one of the busiest places that day was SVdP's central kitchen, where staff and volunteers had to not only make more than 7,000 meals — something they do every day — they all had to be special Thanksgiving dinners. 

Thanksgiving dinner is one of the kitchen's biggest challenges each year, but the team doesn't take it sitting down, as shown in this photo of one of SVdP's kitchen staffers, Mike Medrano. Equipped with his giant ladle, he poured gallons of savory gravy onto the prepared turkey, which (right after this photo) was transported in a truck to SVdP's Phoenix Dining Room on the Human Services Campus and served to the hundreds of guests who visited for a hot holiday meal that day.

Mike has seen his fair share of intense Thanksgivings at SVdP — he's spent the last 26 of them working with the organization. But the biggest things that motivate him during the long hours are the friendship and camaraderie he has with the kitchen staff and volunteers, all of whom are working just as hard. He also likes knowing that the food is going to individuals and families that really need the help.

"It feels good," he said. "The families, they're hungry. They're in need."

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