WATSONVILLE — As many as 300 people came to the Veterans Memorial Building in Watsonville Wednesday for a turkey-and-ham lunch, an annual Thanksgiving celebration created to bring together service organizations and the people they serve.

The event is sponsored by South County Mental Health, the City of Watsonville, Front Street Inc., Mariposa Wellness Center and Community Connection, a program of Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County.

While at its heart the event is a time to simply relax and enjoy a meal together, it is more importantly a way to show the community the width and breadth of services available to the community, in particular people affected with mental health issues.

“We want to show them that we are willing to go the extra mile for them,” said Mariposa Program Coordinator Jodie Wells, who organized the event.

According to Community Connections Director Shawn Peterson, people affected by mental health issues often feel isolated.

“This is a way to let them know that we’re here for them,” Peterson said. 

Arlette Deltoro and Maybel Abarca, both freshmen from Watsonville High School, said they were glad to be able to help out at the event.

“This is part of my community service through St. Patrick’s Church,” Abarca said. “I’ve already gone way past my community hours with 55 hours. I like being able to help. It feels good to be here.”

Deltoro was busy serving rolls on the food line.

“It always feels good helping my community,” she said. “I know I am doing a good thing making people happy. You can see so many happy faces here today.” 

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