WXXI AM News

34th annual Rosa's Thanksgiving Dinner serves 213 people

Nov 11, 2019

The Montgomery Neighborhood Center held the 34th annual Rosa’s Thanksgiving dinner on Monday. 

For 34 years, Rosa Wims has been hosting the event every November. This year, 213 people attended. Joan Parham with Lifetime Care Home Health was one of those visitors.

Foodlink volunteers serve mashed potatoes, collard greens, turkey, gravy and more to members of the community.
Credit Noelle E. C. Evans / WXXI News

“I think that something like this brings people together. And it shows that yes, there are caring people who think about us in this community,” Parham says.

Parham adds that she's excited to see Wims, who founded the event in 1985. Back then, it was a much smaller gathering of neighbors. Now it’s grown into something much bigger, and Wims says there’s another difference.

“People have bonded more and they’re seeing what can happen if you work together,” she says.

Wims says she chose to hold the meal on Veterans Day so that kids had somewhere to go for lunch, since schools are not open.

Wims is a retired nurse and a community advocate. She says that her career began during World War II when more nurses were needed at home because so many had been deployed. She says she’d been working at Rochester General Hospital as an aide when she was offered the chance to study.

“And I was cleaning at that time and they asked me if I wanted to go to school. Oh - Oh my life! And I said yes," she says. 

Rosa Wims, center, greets admirers and members of the community at the 34th annual Rosa's Thanksgiving Dinner.
Credit Noelle E. C. Evans / WXXI News

That opportunity hadn’t been accessible to her before, she says, because she couldn’t afford it. 

"For black women, there wasn’t enough money. You didn’t have the money to do it. We were poor. My mother was poor," she says.

She later founded what is now the Rosa Wims Family Wellness Center, and continues the Thanksgiving meal tradition, now with the help of Foodlink and other organizations.

Parham, who is an admirer of Wims, says she hopes the tradition carries on for a long time.

“I hope this continues and will never cease," Parham says. "They have delicious food and help many people in need.”