Rosa Wims brings community together at annual Thanksgiving meal

Rosa Wims laughed, smiled and hugged her way through a snowy Monday afternoon in Rochester.

As the city prepared for the first major snowstorm of the season, Wims greeted more than 200 guests at her annual Rosa Wims Thanksgiving event at the Montgomery Neighborhood Center on Cady Street. Wims, 96, was hosting the event for the 34th time — with a little help from her friends.

PHOTO ALBUM: 34th annual Rosa Wims Thanksgiving

Foodlink, of course, has been a long-time friend of “Mother Wims” for decades. She was very close with Foodlink’s late founder Tom Ferraro (who’s son, John, attends the event annually), and she later served on the Board of Directors.

Wims has won numerous awards locally for her philanthropic efforts, and her focus on health care in Rochester’s low-income communities. She became the first black nurse’s aide at Rochester General Hospital, and later founded her own wellness center on Genesee Street. She’s left an indelible mark on the community, and it’s on full display each year around Thanksgiving.

“I’ve enjoyed it every year. It’s been a joy to me, and to see other people so happy,” Wims told News 10 NBC.

Foodlink’s kitchen staff played a large role in the event, preparing a majority of the food. Palmer’s donated the 14 turkeys, and the pies — apple, pumpkin and sweet potatoes — were provided by Special Touch Bakery — Foodlink’s neighbor on Mt. Read Boulevard. Regional Distributors provided supplies for the event, such as plastic cutlery and food containers. The menu included stuffing, collard greens, corn, green beans, rice, mashed potatoes and salad prepared by the Foodlink Community Kitchen.

D&C: Community Thanksgiving dinner for hundreds a 34-year tradition for Rosa Wims

This year, the entire Foodlink Career Fellowship Class of 2020 also took part. They helped prepare the dishes the week prior, and served it with a smile the day of. The Fellows are currently in the fourth month of the year-long culinary apprenticeship.

The guests truly appreciated the meal and the care that went into preparing it. Joan Parham told WXXI News:

“I think that something like this brings people together. And it shows that, yes, there are caring people who think about us in this community.”

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