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Full circle: Giving back to Omaha’s Stephen Center on Thanksgiving

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 5:34 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - For yet another year, Omaha’s Stephen Center celebrated Thanksgiving with meals for those working to overcome homelessness and addiction.

The meals, complete with Thanksgiving favorites like turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, were kicked off with a blessing from Archbishop George Lucas, reminding the community to give thanks for what we have, and give back to those who don’t.

Volunteers like Brandy Eccles helped serve food and drinks and make conversation with the dozens of community members sharing a meal.

“This place saves lives, this shelter is different than any shelter in Omaha.”

Without the Stephen Center, Eccles says her life would be drastically different.

“I would be dead. Honest. Honest,” Eccles tells 6 News.

Twelve years ago, Eccles was the one sitting in the chairs in the dining hall, being served by others. It was a time when she was at her lowest.

“I actually aged out of the foster care system and it was a tough journey for me so in my early 20s I surrendered, I came here, scared, worthless, feeling like I had nothing and this place really built me up.”

Built her up to who she is now, a business owner, a wife, and a mother. She now comes back to the center each year on days like today, Thanksgiving, as a volunteer.

“It was the most important part to me as a patient, to be here for the holidays without your family and I just remember that devastating feeling, and it just reversed when I was able to have this meal with this group of people so its very important for us to come back and give that opportunity to someone else whos suffering here,” she says.

She’s not alone, either, 42% of the Stephen Center’s staff share a story similar to Eccles.

“It’s a type of commitment, that all of us, we thrive in it, you know we’re all in the same path and we’re like a family and without coming here, it’s a type of brokenness in our family.”

So each holiday season, Eccles is here, sharing her success, joy, and water of life.

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