IRVINGTON, NJ — The Irvington Neighborhood Improvement Corporation and its executive director, Deborah Simpkins, held their free annual pre-Thanksgiving community dinner for residents Friday, Nov. 17, at the organization’s headquarters on 16th Avenue. They’ll host a second event for senior citizens Wednesday, Nov. 23.
“We’re having a Thanksgiving luncheon for the seniors and we’re also feeding Thanksgiving dinner to all Irvington residents that want to come,” said Simpkins on Friday, Nov. 17. “This was a total Team Irvington Strong effort, with members of the fire department and the police department that are standing by, trimming boxes filled with stuffing, vegetables, cranberry juice, rice and macaroni and cheese that goes with the turkeys and the hens that we’re giving away. The fire department and the police department every year collaborate with us and help us be able to provide the families in Irvington with a full Thanksgiving dinner. They got all the money.”
Simpkins said the I.N.I.C. was able to give so much, thanks to the contributions of the Irvington Police and Fire divisions.
“We give them the turkey, we give them trimming boxes, they give us the drinks and they help us complete it, so we’re grateful to the police and fire departments,” said Simpkins, referring to Public Safety Director Tracy Bowers and his deputy, John Brown, who were at the event, along with Mayor Tony Vauss and others.
Bowers said everyone who came out to I.N.I.C. headquarters did so for the same reason, and it wasn’t to provide security for the event; however, Brown did slip back into his official capacity as the Public Safety Department fire service expert, when he unofficially certified that the building was not more than capacity that afternoon, despite the large number of seniors and hungry residents who came out to enjoy the food.
“We’re not over capacity,” said Brown on Friday, Nov. 17, with support from Simpkins. “It’s just enough. We want everyone to eat well, be well and be safe.”
“We came to eat, too. We’re hungry. We want the citizens to eat well and be well this holiday season and we’re looking forward to eating really, really good today,” Bowers joked on Friday, Nov. 17. “They say we’ve got all the money, but that’s because we’ve got all of the employees. But seriously, this is a worthy occasion that we love participating in every year. We look forward to it and, as you can see, we work well with the community. Police, fire, we’re all one, so it’s a great time in a great city.”
Councilwoman at large October Hudley thanked Simpkins for always putting on a fabulous event and adding live entertainment this year. Simpkins also literally provided flavor for the event, thanks to the hot sauce, salt and other seasonings she had on hand for diners who requested them.
“I’m looking forward, not only to some healthy, delicious food, but also to some good music and sitting down and celebrating this festive holiday with the people right here in the community,” said Hudley. “I consider that we’re all family. And I’m so grateful for this event.”
Jeroline Wellford, a senior at the luncheon, agreed with Brown’s sentiments.
“It was very, very nice. It was touching,” said Welford on Friday, Nov. 17. “In a minute, I’ll tell you how good the food was or wasn’t.”
Vauss added, “We’re doing what we normally do here in the township of Irvington, which is take care of our residents. We have a great meal prepared and I want to make sure that we get to it and serve everyone, so everyone has a joyous holiday season.”