Carrying on his late father’s legacy, Todd Dean continues to embrace the opportunity to volunteer at the New Frontier of Bartow County’s pre-Thanksgiving outreach. With the event being renamed Feed the Community Dinner in Honor of Michael Dean, the gathering pays tribute to the organization’s former president, who passed away in 2011.
“Scott Mays told me eight years ago, they would change the name and the gratitude I felt in that moment has not changed,” said Dean, a Cartersville resident and the president and cofounder of the Circle of Advancement nonprofit. “I think I speak for my whole family when I say we were extremely touched and forever grateful the New Frontier chose to honor my dad. The respect and love displayed towards him has been unparalleled. I want to thank the New Frontier again for the gesture.
“I may not be a part of the New Frontier yet, however the legacy of this event is important to me. The Feed the Community Dinner is the living embodiment of who my dad was. He was a man of community, a servant of people. That part of him lives through this event.”
Sharing the Feed the Community Dinner “meant the world” to his father,” Dean noted this event has served as a key part of his life since childhood.
“I can remember him working on the dinner as a child. We would go places and he would make it his duty to let everyone know about it,” Dean said about the Feed the Community Dinner. “He fell in love with the process of making this dinner happen. The work seemed endless at times but he never showed fatigue. The Feed the Community Dinner was bigger than him, and it was a chance, not only to help the next man or woman, but a chance to bring our community together during such a special time of the year.
“His inspiration came from the Hosea Williams’ Feed the Hungry dinner in Atlanta. He studied it and causes alike because he believed, ‘The Feed the Community Dinner was made to last.’ I'm overjoyed that he was able to see it grow, and know he would be proud of where it is today.”
In its 19th year, the Feed the Community Dinner in Honor of Michael Dean is expected to serve about 2,000 people Nov. 23 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cartersville Civic Center, 435 W. Main St.
“Our first dinner was held at our small clubhouse on Fire Tower Road and served around 100 people,” New Frontier of Bartow County Secretary Trey Benham said. “The dinner was soon moved to Cartersville Civic Center for a larger and more central location. Today, we are consistently serving around 2,000 people every year. With the larger space at the civic center, we were able to expand our offerings and provide additional services.
“In addition to food, families are being provided clothes, toys, books and other necessities. Free haircuts are provided by professional barbers who are donating their time, guests can obtain information on free job training programs and free health screenings will also be available. We work with several different organizations throughout the community to help meet the various needs of our guests.”
To help the complimentary event reach its full potential, Benham is seeking the community’s assistance. Along with volunteers, New Frontier members are in need of financial contributions and additional donations for the Feed the Community Dinner.
“The community can help in a variety of ways,” Benham said. “Donations of money, clothes and toys are just a few of the things we could use that would help us out tremendously. But the biggest thing the community can do to support this event is simply show up.
“Show up to volunteer, hold a conversation with someone you don't know, invite friends and family to come with you. This is for all of the county to come together, not one particular segment of the population, but everyone. We would love to see the number of people served continue to grow.”
Those wanting to volunteer during the event are encouraged to sign up by calling William Solomon at 404-625-3880.
To contribute toys, clothing and children’s books, individuals need to schedule a donation drop-off appointment by calling 404-201-5579. Financial donations for the Feed the Community Dinner can be placed online at www.thenewfrontierinc.org or mailed to New Frontier of Bartow County at P.O. Box 1891, Cartersville, GA 30120.
Established in 1962, New Frontier of Bartow County — whose mission is to “work for the betterment of all citizens of Bartow County, seek the election of the best qualified political candidates, work for the betterment of job opportunities for African Americans, and assist in the countywide educational progress” — is a Bartow-based civic organization.
“The purpose of the dinner is to give back to our community and say thank you for the support given for over 50 years,” Benham said. “Our organization was founded on the principle of creating unity. We still value unity and want to see those from different walks of life come together at the same table to break bread.
“… I’ve lost count on the number of years I've been involved with the dinner, but every year I leave with fond memories. It is always great to see the smiling faces, people laughing and everyone truly enjoying the day.”
To receive free transportation to and from the gathering, diners need to contact Bartow Transit at 770-387-5165 prior to the event. Further details about New Frontier can be obtained by visiting www.thenewfrontierinc.org or www.facebook.com/newfrontierinc.
“At the Feed the Community Dinner in Honor of Michael Dean, people can volunteer, eat dinner, get their hair cut, collect school supplies and so on,” Dean said. “It’s [a] beautiful experience, and my dad’s hope was for people to leave knowing this community supports them, and genuinely cares for them, because he knew the greatness of community is measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”