NORTHBOROUGH – St. Bernadette’s was filled with music and food on Nov. 21 as new arrivals from Colombia and Haiti and community members gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Children ran and played in between the tables while people filled their plates with food. At one table, Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll ate with one of the new arrivals.
“It’s so heartwarming for new arrivals who are experiencing their first Thanksgiving and to be able to share that,” Driscoll told the Community Advocate. “Real gratitude to the town of Northborough, the amazing staff, supporters, community members who have come together to help people feel welcome and feel that their needs are being met, which is pretty important.”
In her remarks, Driscoll welcomed the families on behalf of the commonwealth.
“Thanksgiving is about hope — hope for the next generation, hope for a better life, hope that we can find peace in where we are and across the world,” she said.
Over the summer, a number of migrant families arrived in Massachusetts, leading Gov. Maura Healey to declare a state of emergency in August. At that time, the state estimated that there were nearly 5,600 families, or over 20,000 individuals, in the state shelter system.
In late July, the new arrivals were placed in an emergency shelter in a Northborough motel. According to Health Director Kristin Black, 30 families have been housed in town, including 40 children — 27 of which were under the age of 4 and five babies on the way.
“The arrival families who are gathered with us tonight originate from Haiti and Colombia. These countries don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but they have many holidays where they give thanks and celebrate with food,” said Black.
Black said the event that night was special as they gathered at St. Bernadette’s to give thanks and celebrate.
“These families faced extreme hardships to come to Northborough. We are grateful for their health and their strength,” said Black.
Referencing the phrase that “it takes a village to raise a child,” Black recognized the “village” of Northborough that has supported the families since they arrived in town.
Among those recognized were Driscoll and Housing and Livable Communities Secretary Ed Augustus, who were both present at the meal; Northborough’s delegation of Sen. Robyn Kennedy and Reps. Kate Donaghue and Meghan Kilcoyne; Select Board members; school officials; members of the technology department, department of public works, health department, fire and police; and the town’s partnership with the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance.
Black also recognized Northborough Helping Hands Association, Northboro Junior Woman’s Club and the Northborough Food Pantry, and the Neighborhood Brigade along with individual community members.
“I am so grateful to work in the beautiful village of Northborough, which is filled with amazing people. I am thankful for the families here tonight. Thank you for sharing your children, your goodwill and your delicious food with us and enriching all of our lives,” said Black.