Paquin Tower celebrates Thanksgiving a week early

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 | 10:34 p.m. CST
Janice Seagraves, left, and Ryan Davis of the Karis Community Church set out food during the Thanksgiving dinner at Paquin Tower on Wednesday. Members of the church brought food for the residents as they listened to bluegrass music.

COLUMBIA — Mike Bishop hoped to spot sweet potato pie Wednesday night at the end of the Thanksgiving buffet line at Paquin Tower.

"I know everyone probably wants pumpkin pie, but I don't like the nutmeg in it," he said.

Bishop was one of more than 20 members of Columbia's Karis Community Church who brought their turkey basters and canned cranberries to prepare and serve a Thanksgiving dinner for about 60 Paquin Tower residents Wednesday evening. Another handful brushed up on their bluegrass skills to provide dinner music.

Columbia’s Department of Parks and Recreation staff usually holds the annual dinner but weren't sure if they would be able to this year because of budget cuts. Karis members were delighted to step in.

“We’re passionately interested in what goes on in this city, and displaying the love of Jesus through practical acts of helping people right here,” said Ryan Worley, an intern at Karis. "This is another great opportunity to live our mission."

Karis members gather to worship in the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts one hour every week. Their theology leads them to spend much of the other 167 hours of the week working to make Columbia, specifically the District, a better place to call home, Worley said. During the past year, they’ve thrown a monthly game night at Paquin and hosted a cookie-decorating party there last holiday season. 

Paquin Tower is a government subsidized Columbia residence for disabled and elderly people. Crystal Hampton, Paquin Tower resident services coordinator, said about 200 people currently live there.

Aaron Perkins has lived in Paquin Tower for about 15 months. He said visits from Karis members give residents a dose of the outside world and the motivation to foster a sense of community in their own nook of the world. 

"They've helped us branch out and socialize with each other, and we've even launched our own game nights. After this dinner is over, there will probably be a group of us playing cards or dice out here."

Michelle Busby became a Paquin Tower resident two weeks ago. Her mother lives there too.

"This is absolutely wonderful what Karis does here, because some people have family and some don't," Busby said. "I'm lucky to have mine so close."

When dinner began Wednesday night, four Karis members played a twangy version of Coldplay's song "Viva La Vida" as people migrated towards the buffet line. Bishop, a Paquin Tower resident for 19 years, was one of the first in line. He came back to his table with three plates of food — one with three different, little mountains of dessert on it. 

"There's pecan pie, German chocolate cake and I don't know what that pink pile of stuff is called," Bishop said, "but I know it has fruit cocktail, marshmallows and whipped cream in it."

As Bishop joked while he ate with his buddy Bob Hanaford, Bishop didn't seem too heartbroken by the lack of sweet potato pie.

"Did you see how long it took him to get through that food line," Hanaford said about Bishop. "He didn't care what ended up on his plate, he was too busy talking to the women here."

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Charles Dudley Jr November 20, 2008 | 4:55 a.m.

Yes this evening of food and music was a real blessing both to the volunteers and to the residents.

Things like this bring those with disabilities out of their apartments when normally they would not come out due to either physical or psychological difficulties. Often times due to stereotyping of those with disabilities it creates a stumbling block that is often times for some impossible to get over. This event helped those to over come that for just one night.

This event and others like it show those residents that there truly are people in this world who care about them when their own families often times abandon them or just do not come around to visit them.

Truly a "Higher Power" is working through this young community church group and in these days in our society it is just like a breath of fresh air.

May their good works be known and seen as a new example of working for change with in our community to stand along side those who also have done this of type work for many many years.

Thanks you's go out to all in the Karis Community Church members from all of the residents of Paquin Tower. Your coming over to do "Game Nights" is much appreciated as well of the huge blessing of this great dinner you put on.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand November 20, 2008 | 8:09 a.m.

Hearing "Viva La Vida" would have ruined my appetite.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr November 20, 2008 | 10:21 a.m.

They played a wide variety of Blue Grass Music that was quite good. Everybody was quite complimentary of the entire event.

(Report Comment)

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