“I Heard That”: Thanskgiving at Velma’s Place

by Rochelle Metcalfe on December 1, 2010

LET’S DO IT AGAIN! San Francisco Bayview merchants and sponsors came together for “The Second Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner – Turkey Your Way”, at Velma’s Place – the heart and soul venue of the community, located on Jerrold Avenue, where it all began last year! VELMA LANDERS, long time District 10 resident, opened her club three years ago; which serves not only as a nightclub (that has featured named musicians), but the community as well. There have been many political and social events held in the spacious venue.

Thanksgiving at Velma’s has become a tradition for some, who donate, volunteer their services, as well as invite family, But a blessing for many who have no family; jobless, homeless – all in the mix! The FREE dinner was served from 12 noon to 5 p.m. The word was out , folks came from the area, and across the city to partake of the hearty soulful meal prepared by restaurants on Third Street, that included: ALLEN JORDAN, of famous Sam Jordan’s Club; Auntie April, GARY LYNCH of The Monte Carlo Restaurant and Bar; and individual cooks who donated to the buffet spread – a community thing!

There was smoked and roasted turkey, Honey-baked ham (my donation), and, as the old folks would say – FIXINS – macaroni and cheese, (Ahhh, Ms. BETTY STURDIVANT put her foot in that pan!); greens, dressing, string beans, plenty desserts, and more! Since I don’t do any serious cooking anymore, rarely do I get to taste some down home cooking!!! A HAPPY FEELIN’!

Many were delighted to meet MALIA COHEN, District 10 Supervisor-elect. who partook of the meal, relaxed in conversation with guests, and picture-taking captured by photographer PATRICIA ANN WINSTON (PAW). The afternoon gave me an opportunity to meet and converse with MARLENE TRAN, who ran as District 10 supervisor candidate, neighborhood leader; especially in Visitation Valley, and a former teacher for over 30 years. Noticed she enjoys soul food!

Ms. Velma, co-partner CHESTER BILLINGER, and staff were pleased over the support and turnout! Guests on the scene, some sponsors/supporters, family, included: LEAH PIMENTEL, Chair, Harvey Matthews Bayview Hunters Point Democratic Club; MICHAEL HENRY, Director, RACING 4 LIFE; SURETHA JACKSON, Director, A Sobering Place called Nanny’s; TAKE WINGS FOUNDATION, a girls foundation ran by Lander’s niece, Actress TERRY VAUGHN. Several young girls served; caterer BETTY CRAFT; SHELLY TATUM, Entertainment producer/promoter, and community political activist, raised in District 10. Tatum kept many of us informed on how the tight supervisory race was going! ;…

GREGORY RICHARDSON, Host, “The Good News Show” aired on Cable 29, joined by co-host, MS. MATHIS, captured the happenings; KPOO radio station BLUES personality BOBBIE WEBB there with his granddaughter. Webb and KPOO announcers NOEL HAYES and DONALD LACEY helped put the word out; several gentlemen who live in the Tenderloin told me that’s how they heard about the dinner!

Velma’s mother, CLEO CHAMPION and family members were there – . Champion is such a stylish lady! Velma expressed in a phone conversation, “THE NEXT GENERATION groups” were there, happy to meet 31-year old Ms. Cohen, who definitely will be a role model for many young women in particular!

E-mail Rochelle at iheard@earthlink.net

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