Making a community meal

Nov. 28—MOSES LAKE — Business owner Paul Carney knows a thing or two about being down and out.

The owner of EDUBS C/S, which creates custom low-rider cars as well as sells clothing and low-rider lifestyle accessories, said there was a time in his life some years ago when the closest thing he had to home was the streets of Las Vegas.

"As a former homeless addict, I remember those lonely, depressing, hopeless feelings and thoughts that came with the holidays when I was alone on the streets. A significant amount of my homeless friends back then were vets," he said.

"Being homeless, you see a lot of charities do holiday meals early. Which is great, don't get me wrong. A lot of us on the streets were alone on the streets during the holidays, depressed and looking to use. And that's why Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving (itself) needs to stand for so much more," Carney said.

"It's Thanksgiving," he added. "Nobody should be alone."

So, Carney, who relocated to Moses Lake three years ago looking for a place to start a family and call home, reached out to friend and fellow business owner Roman Robles of Best Buy Auto Sales about the idea of offering a free turkey dinner on Thanksgiving for anyone in need. Carney then said the two of them reached out to Rick Biery of Rick's Eatery & Entertainment, who agreed to host the meal, even canceling a holiday trip to see family in Idaho to make it happen.

Along the way, Carney said, it was something of a scramble to find an organization willing and able to cook the turkey and the ham, especially after Columbia Basin Job Corps said they would not be able to do it.

In the midst of all this organizing, Carney said he received news his father had died — a loss Carney said he has still not fully processed.

"Rather than falling apart and grieving the loss of my dad and giving up on the mission, I continued knocking on doors and inquiring who could help us cook Thanksgiving for our community meal," he said.

Eventually, Carney said, Safeway in Moses Lake stepped in with the turkey and ham — something for which he said he was incredibly grateful.

"Rick and myself were in awe and couldn't buy the remaining turkey and ham dinners fast enough," he said.

Carney noted that making the meal happen at Rick's was a community effort involving a number of local businesses donating time, money and volunteer labor. Over 400 meals were served on Thursday, and volunteer barbers from Blessed Barbershop and By The Blade Cutz gave 27 haircuts. And the rear dining room at Rick's, which also serves as the eatery's live music venue, was decked out with seasonal tablecloths and a long serving table that smelled of turkey, ham, stuffing and gravy.

"We've had a good turnout today," said Biery.

Biery's brother-in-law Brian Phillips — the family Biery was set to visit in Meridian, Idaho, for the holiday — decided instead to bring his family to Moses Lake and help serve Thanksgiving meals.

"Yeah, I think it's cool because he opens (his place) up to the community," Phillips said as he spooned out helpings of turkey. "We were here to help him with potatoes yesterday, and then when we came this morning, we prepped turkeys."

The meal also got some local residents out who have helped with community events in the past but didn't have any place to do so.

"Normally, I worked at the soup kitchen for the Catholic Church, until we got shut down during the pandemic," said Arlene Martinez, who helped serve mashed potatoes and gravy. "You need to get out and volunteer."

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.