Camillus House resident on Thanksgiving: ‘This is a safe haven’

MIAMI – Volunteers were up early and working at the Camillus House on a mission to serve the poor and the homeless on Thanksgiving in Miami-Dade County.

It’s a very busy day for Sam Gil, who oversees the non-profit organization’s operations and marketing departments. It is the house’s 60th annual Thanksgiving celebration.

”Even though COVID and the pandemic have really kind of like changed everything, we want to make sure that our folks have a meal that makes them feel like we’re family,” Gil said.

Gil said the Camillus House team was required to get tested for the coronavirus ahead of the event, which is split into two groups. One of the groups includes the Camillus House residents who have all tested negative for the coronavirus and the other group includes people who are homeless.

The Camillus House opened the dining room for a Thanksgiving feast full of coronavirus pandemic precautions, including plexiglass, testing, and temperature checks. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG - All rights reserved.)

“Folks who are disabled are first brought in,” Gil said. “If they’re able to wash their hands on their own, we have washing stations. If not, we provide hand sanitizers.”

Organizers set up a screening station to check the temperature of the residents who enter the dining room. The event also includes free haircuts. Charles Benedict is a resident and a volunteer.

“This is a safe haven,” Benedict said. “You know, it’s better than being under the bridge ... I take part because it takes a lot of effort, and brotherhood, sisterhood. You know, helping out brothers and sisters get on their feet and keep their bellies full.”

The Camillus House is serving Thanksgiving Day meals in Miami-Dade County. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG - All rights reserved.)


Here are some precautions to help you celebrate Thanksgiving safely:

  • Celebrate at home with the people you live with and host a virtual gathering.
  • If you decide to risk hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, do it outside, limit the number of guests, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use. Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils. Limit the number of people in food preparation areas, have one person who is wearing protection serve food, or have guests bring their own food and drink.
  • If you decide to attend a gathering, bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils. Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled. Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer. Stay at least 6 feet apart, or about two arm lengths, from anyone who does not live with you.
  • When you are around people you don’t live with, wear a face mask with two or more layers over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin. Safely store your mask while eating and drinking.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your face mask, eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Safely prepare traditional dishes and deliver them to family and neighbors in a way that does not involve contact with others such as by leaving them on the porch.

Source: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

About the Authors:

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.