WASHINGTON - It has been more than two months since the Arthur Capper Senior Apartments burned down in Southeast D.C. The huge fire displaced dozens of elderly residents, some who are still living in temporary housing. But on Thursday, they were treated to a Thanksgiving dinner inside a new concert hall.
At The Wharf, The Anthem opened its doors Thanksgiving afternoon - not for a famous band, but for community members in need. Instead of fans out on the concert floor, there was a feast.
"It's wonderful to be able to see everybody that got out and see them living," said Lena Butler. "Because I'm 80 years old and I have to start all over again. This is the first time this has ever happened to me, but I'm living. That's the main thing."
Butler says she is thankful for this holiday meal with old neighbors and friends. She is one of almost 100 seniors who lost their home in a huge fire two months ago. On this Thanksgiving Day, the Southeast D.C. building she lived in still sit in ruins.
"I lost everything, and most of value, I lost my pictures," she said. "Money, jewelry - all that I can get again - but I lost most of my pictures."
"What we can do is create a sense of hope and community for them as well as a meal," said Monty Hoffman, the CEO of real estate developer PN Hoffman.
Hoffman, who was one of the key people responsible for the new development at The Wharf, joined forces with several other local businesses and the Arthur Capper building management and owners to host Thanksgiving for former residents, their families and the first responders who helped save lives on Sept. 19. About 400 delicious meals were cooked up by nearby restaurant Kaliwa.
"It's been exciting seeing the reactions to everything," said Hoffman. "Most haven't been here before. Some have never even been to The Wharf before. Now they come in here and all this was set up for them, and I think it was meaningful."
Meanwhile, the building and many of these residents are still in a transitional stage. However, Butler says moments like this keep her going.
"People have been so nice to me," she said. "I'm doing fine now. My children and other people, the Red Cross, have been so good. They helped me along."
More than 100 volunteers helped make this Thanksgiving event happen.
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