The Bea Gaddy Family Centers have become synonymous with community service and support in Baltimore, particularly known for their annual Thanksgiving dinner tradition. This tradition, a beacon of hope and solidarity for the community, marks its 42nd year of providing warm meals to those in need during the holiday season.
A Legacy of Giving Back
The Bea Gaddy Family Centers were founded by the late Bea Gaddy, who was inspired to help the needy after she herself experienced poverty and homelessness. Her story of transformation from a struggling single mother to a community leader and advocate for the homeless has inspired many in Baltimore and beyond. Gaddy started her mission with a simple yet profound act of kindness—using a winning lottery ticket to feed 39 of her neighbors for Thanksgiving. This act of generosity laid the foundation for what would become an enduring legacy of community service.
For over four decades, the Bea Gaddy Family Centers have expanded their outreach, providing not just meals but also assistance with housing, counseling, education, and job training. The annual Thanksgiving dinner is a hallmark of their work, bringing together volunteers, community leaders, and residents in a celebration of gratitude and communal support.
Adapting to New Challenges
In the face of new challenges, the Bea Gaddy Family Centers have shown resilience and adaptability. Traditionally held at the Virginia S. Baker Recreation Center in Patterson Park, the Thanksgiving event has seen changes in venue to accommodate more people and ensure the safety and comfort of all attendees. This year, the location of the Thanksgiving dinner has changed from the rec center at Patterson Park to the Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center, reflecting the organization’s ability to respond to the community’s needs.
The dinner began with a prayer, a nod to the event’s humble beginnings and its ongoing mission to serve as a gathering of hope. Volunteers and local families play a crucial role in preparing for the event, showcasing the collective effort that makes the dinner possible each year. The 42nd annual Bea Gaddy Thanksgiving Dinner remains a testament