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The gift of time: For Kevin Twohig, serving at UGM Thanksgiving is a family tradition

Kevin Twohig (Molly Quinn)
Kevin Twohig (Molly Quinn)

Kevin Twohig has a steady job the day before Thanksgiving, and it isn’t pushing paperwork as CEO of the Spokane Public Facilities District.

He spends about five hours helping queue up hot plates of turkey with all the fixings served in the Spokane Convention Center’s main ballroom.

For eight years, Twohig has volunteered with his family and hundreds of other helpers providing the Union Gospel Mission’s City-Wide Thanksgiving Dinner. When the event got too big for UGM’s dining hall, Spokane Convention Center staff helped with a backup plan.

“I’ve done this as long as it’s been at the convention center,” said Twohig, 68. “We had several staff people including our food and beverage contractor who said, ‘We think this would be a great thing to do, and can we support it?’ I said, yeah, let’s see who from our staff can help.”

“It takes a lot of people to make a volunteer event like that happen — everything from setting up the room to doing placemats to things like folding the silverware into napkins.”

In 2016, about 1,000 people were served a free Thanksgiving feast that’s open to anyone who might be spending the holiday homeless, hungry or alone.

Working in a service corridor, Twohig typically unloads hot carts holding the dinners as servers request them for individual tables. He helps alongside his wife Barbara, son Kyle and daughter-in-law Anna.

Dinners coming out of the warming ovens also are kept warm on plates with stainless steel covers.

“They come out of the hot carts and they’re flippin’ hot, I’ll tell you, but it’s a great atmosphere,” Twohig said. “We’re doing something that feels so good for people who really appreciate it.”

“I get to do this with my family and other people who all have the same goal — let’s make sure people have a great experience.”

Along with traditional sides, chocolate milk is a big hit, Twohig said. “There are a lot of kids. A lot of people come as a family.”

He credits UGM for facilitating the event, and the many volunteers on hand all day Tuesday and Wednesday. UGM has a big staff cooking at the mission, and they combine efforts with the convention center’s food and beverage caterer.

“Between the two organizations, they do all the food service,” Twohig said. “It’s an impressive operation; hundreds of volunteers. My family is doing a very small part. We certainly enjoy it.”

He’s also impressed by the convention center’s food service workers. “They serve on this day as volunteers … to see they’re just as focused on doing this as volunteers, even perhaps more so, because they recognize the significance of it.”

Although he is retiring Feb. 1 as the facility district CEO, Twohig plans to continue volunteering at the meals.

“For somebody who has my job, where I really have an administrative function, to get in there and help serve a meal and know it’s a special meal for a lot of people, it’s very rewarding.”

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