Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I am thankful that I was able to fly back down to Alabama for one week to catch up with my family, who has missed me terribly since I departed and decided to make the drive up here to Helena, Montana. I was happy to see my twin brother who showed off to me the “new” Super NES classic that he obtained while I was gone. It was like looking back into my childhood playing games such as “Super Mario World” and “Looney Tunes B-ball” on the game console.

I also prepared and roasted the turkey and made my semi-famous mac & cheese, which I seldom make save for special occasions such as Thanksgiving. I got to see my mother and father who have missed me and were worried about me being up Northwest, although I reassured them that I am doing great. I even got to enjoy watching the Iron Bowl that traditionally takes place the following Saturday after Thanksgiving between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers, with Alabama winning 52-21. I also watched as the UAB Blazers played Middle Tennessee that same evening with less successful results: Alabama losing to Middle Tennessee 3-27. Despite the loss, I will always be part of the Blazer Alumni family no matter where I am located.

It’s a week like this that also reminds me what I hope to accomplish among families here in Montana, through the expansion of the Family Dinner Project, during my service time here. Although Thanksgiving is one of the few times that my own family comes together at the dinner table, it serves as a personal reminder to me why I do need to reconnect with family. One of my biggest hopes regarding my ongoing efforts in fighting child food insecurity out here in Helena is that I can help bring more families closer together. I personally feel that family is everything, and while I did not grow up eating around the dinner table too much (save for during the holidays), I do feel that family should always come first.

I love that Montana has something like the Family Dinner Project in place, and I’m hoping that one day maybe I can see a program like The Family Dinner Project trickle its way down to the state of Alabama. I say this because I feel, especially given the rush of today’s times where many Americans are busy and dealing with uncertainty in the future, that everyone could benefit from spending more quality family time - including my own self. It may seem simple enough in concept, and I'll admit I do not practice it enough, but it is something I want to practice more in the future.

Steven Mann
PRC AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Montana No Kid Hungry
Helena, MT