Fellowship and thanks
Nov 22, 2012 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
For those who wouldn't otherwise have a Thanksgiving meal, the Salvation Army on Thursday hosted its annual Thanksgiving lunch, complete with potatoes, stuffing, turkey, and all the fixin's.
But one man attended the lunch knowing he had two turkeys waiting at home, one he was going to donate, and enough money to, as he said, buy whatever he wants.
Geoffrey Jameson said it wasn't always that way, as he was homeless for a while after being diagnosed with a lung disease that rendered him unable to work.
Jameson said he is a street preacher and speaks to people who are going through the things he went through just a few years ago.
Working in the oilfield, Jameson was making enough money to support himself, he said, but that was about to end.
"When (the disease) hit me, I couldn't work. So I lived on the streets," he said.
Jameson said he was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, or an inflammation that can occur in the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, eyes, skin or other tissues.
Since he began receiving disability pay in 2010, however, Jameson said he still comes to the Salvation Army to speak with the people who are going through similar struggles he went through while on the streets.
Those like Michael Williams, a former Army soldier who is out of work in Odessa and wanting to help themselves even though he had family in the area.
Williams said he was honorably discharged in 1983 after serving as a demolitions specialist.
Growing up in Odessa, Williams said he has family, but as a "grown man" he said he wants to take care of himself.
"(The Salvation Army meal) is a blessing from the Lord and some people aren't grateful. We take things for granted sometimes," Williams said.
Lt. Joe Contreras with the Salvation Army is not one of those people, however.
Contreras said he's been in Odessa for the past five months, coming from College Station, and enjoys the opportunity to give people a warm meal when they need it.
In his past, Contreras said he was there himself when his father was in prison and his mother was trying to feed three children.
"Having those people do this for me when I was young, it affected me," he said.
And there are others passing through who otherwise wouldn't have a meal.
Dewitt Tranberg, who came from San Jose, Calif., a few months ago, said he's a plumber working in the area and possibly transferring out of Odessa to another location.
In the meantime, a friend of his is letting him stay in a shop.
Tranberg said he's grateful for the meal provided by Salvation Army, especially without any family in the area and with only recent concerns that he might not make it in Odessa and might not have enough money to get back to California.
Thanksgiving also has a special meaning for Tranberg, he said, as he can trace his lineage back to the original colonists.
He said this time of the year is for giving thanks.
Contact Jon Vanderlaan on twitter at @OAcourts, on Facebook at OA Jon Vanderlaan or call 432-333-7763.
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