“My family is hosting its 3rd annual Homeless Vets and the Homeless Christmas Dinner,” said Jake Myrick, athletic director for the Boys & Girls Club late yesterday afternoon. The turkey/ham dinner with all the fixings will be held at the 277 Cumberland Avenue location. The doors open at 1:00 pm with dinner to be served around 5 pm.
Myrick who lived at Kennedy Park as a boy is also a veteran of two tours of duty in Kosavo, and a year guarding the DMZ that separates North Korea from South Korea. That was especially difficult because a least twice a month, the US troops would receive alerts of possible signs of aggression from the North Koreans. “A lot of Christmases I wasn’t at home and deployed somewhere overseas. It can be depressing,” he went on. “If you don’t have a mission, you are always thinking about home and what’s going on there. The stress level is intensified when you aren’t around your loved ones.” He was also in Iraq briefly.
The first year Myrick, his family (2 sisters and 5 brothers), his finance, Wendy, and Rick Warren hosted between 75 – 100 for the Christmas Day Dinner at the Club. Myrick figures it cost them between $600.-$800. to prepare the meal. Last year there were about 150-200 who showed up and this year he expects about 250 to join his family for Christmas Day Dinner. This year he attributes the Board of the Boys & Girls Club with taking the lead and making it happen once again. “This board is absolutely amazing,” he said.
Before dinner is served at the Club on Cumberland, the same dinner will be served to the residents and staff of the Milestone Foundation on India Street around 4:15 pm. Myrick, 37, says his family expects to serve about 80 people there.
The gentle and softspoken Myrick is articulate. “I’m extremely grateful to the Board who has stepped up to do this, but I’d have found a way to do it if they hadn’t. You don’t have to be alone for the holidays. If I can provide a hotmeal for anyone who needs one, come in.”
Myrick has worked for the Boys & Girls Club for 12 years – before he went into the service and since his return. But he’s been affiliated with the Club for 30 years. When he was seven years old he first joined the Club and has been involved ever since.