33rd Community Turkey Giveaway held in Mott Haven

Joel Fishman and his family; Dena Fishman-Roth, Sherry, Joanna, Jonah, Aidan, and Sky Fishman, Matthew and Alex Roth.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

A local organization and a family of community activists partnered up to host an annual giveaway event.

On Monday, November 21, ArchCare at Home, formerly known as the Dominican Sisters Family Health Service, collaborated with real estate businessman and community activist Joel Fishman and his family to host the 33rd Community Turkey Giveaway to feed needy local residents in preparation for Thanksgiving.

The Turkey Giveaway was held in front of the ArchCare at Home facility on 279 Alexander Avenue, where thousands of south Bronx residents lined up to receive a free turkey so they would be able to enjoy a hot meal at home on Thanksgiving day.

The line, which mostly consisted of residents from Mott Haven, began in front of the facility and continued northbound on Alexander Avenue. Upwards of 30 to 40 volunteers from ArchCare at Home participated in the event, along with community liaisons from the 40th Precinct.

In total, over 2,000 turkeys were distributed to residents in need, in the poorest congressional district in the United States.

“The closer and closer it gets to Thanksgiving, the harder and harder it is to purchase a turkey,” said Joel, who added that the Monday before Thanksgiving is usually the busiest turkey distribution day of the year.

Joel said that, in order to properly prepare for this event, he had to purchase most of the turkeys nearly a year in advance. He noted that some residents had been waiting on the line since 3 a.m. that morning.

He also said that he received donations from contacts in over 30 states, donations which were allocated towards the event before he made up the cost difference of the purchased turkeys.

Fishman, originally a Brooklyn resident, pursued a career in real estate until his retirement, after spending the first 14 years of his life at Kings County Hospital suffering from Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome, a condition which greatly affected the use of one of his legs. Since then, he has always found a way to give back.

“I always find myself coming back year after year – and how do you stop?” asked Joel. “Everybody is entitled to celebrate a proper Thanksgiving.”

“I am very proud to be a part of this giveaway each year,” said Dena Fishman-Roth, Joel Fishman’s daughter. “It’s a wonderful feeling to participate in an event that has helped contribute to the community for so many years.”

“Each year, I am so surprised to see how many people actually show up to this giveaway,” said Matthew Roth, Joel Fishman’s grandson, who Joel says will carry on the same tradition with his other grandchildren when they are old enough. “It makes me happy to know we are helping people in need and I’m proud to help my grandfather give back to the community.”

“The notion here is helping and serving communities who need it the most – and putting that mission into action,” said Mary Zagajeski, president and CEO of ArchCare at Home, who said that a culinary institute associated with her organization also donates 150 turkey dinners to families in Suffolk County each year.

ArchCare at Home delivers comprehensive home healthcare and similar services, including in-home nursing care, rehabilitative therapies, home health aides, pastoral care and maternal/child health, along with a wide range of social services and community-based programs for people with specialized health needs and seniors. Up until this year, the organization was known as the Dominican Sisters Family Health Service, when it partnered with the healthcare system of the Archdiocese of New York.

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