Silverthorne community dinner serves 90,000th meal |

Silverthorne community dinner serves 90,000th meal

The community dinner in Silverthorne takes place every Tuesday evening and is free for anyone to attend. The program was started by Rotarian Deb Hage six years ago.
Jessica Smith / |

It was a typical Tuesday evening at the Elks Lodge in Silverthorne. Cars filled the parking lot to capacity, and the sounds of bright conversation and the smells of delicious food hung right in the doorway.

Since March 2009, the lodge has been host to the community dinner — a free hot meal served every Tuesday for any and all who wish to stop by. Event organizer and Rotarian Deb Hage stood by the front door, welcoming people as they came in, while another volunteer made tally marks on a piece of paper.

Near the end of the night, one of those marks registered a milestone.

When Silverthorne resident Kevin Crowley walked through the door, he set off a ruckus of cheers and clapping.

As it turned out, Crowley’s meal was the 90,000th that the community dinner had served since its beginning.

“Get the candles,” Hage called to the kitchen, while taking Crowley’s arm in hers and giving the announcement to the room. Cheers followed, then Copper Mountain Resort chef Terry Higgins emerged from the kitchen with a plate heaped with mashed potatoes and fried chicken. Elks Lodge general manager Bob Knorr lit the candles on top of the potatoes proclaiming “90,000.”

“I’m overwhelmed,” said Hage, her eyes filling with tears as she surveyed the full room. “I’ve overwhelmed that the community has made the commitment to the project over the years.”

When she started the dinner six years ago, she expected it to last no more than a year and a half. But the response she received told the real story — the need was there, and people were willing to help.

Each dinner is served by a different group of volunteers.

Tuesday’s volunteers were fourth- and fifth-graders from the SOS Outreach program, and the cooks were volunteers from Copper Mountain.

Crowley was surprised to be the 90,000th person served, but he smiled and gave a thumbs-up for some photos.

Sitting down to dinner with his friend Jim Kelly, Crowley said that he’s often come to the community dinners. He and his roommates live nearby in Silverthorne, so it’s an easy trip for a good meal. He recalled one summer when he was particularly strapped financially, and how he could always count on the community dinner every Tuesday.

Hage said the dinner has not been canceled once in any of its six years, nor has it ever run out of food. Thinking of the project overall and all it has accomplished, she spoke aloud the quote with which she ends every email about the dinner — “Together, we are doing a very good thing.”

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