Veteran expresses thanks even in difficult times


PITTSFIELD -- Todd Lincoln has lost a lot since leaving the Army, but he was still thankful on Thanksgiving.

On a warm Thursday afternoon, Lincoln sat on the porch of the Barton's Crossing homeless shelter, passing some time while he cooked his very first Thanksgiving meal.

The 56-year-old volunteered to cook dinner -- four turkeys, mashed potatoes, stuffing and vegetables expected to feed 30 that night -- as one of the few homeless staying at Barton's Crossing who hadn't gone home to family for the holidays.

"I am very thankful that I've got a roof over my head, and this place is trying to help me try to find a place," said Lincoln, who moved to the shelter three months ago after leaving the Soldier On program, which provides shelter for homeless veterans.

Life's been a struggle, he said, but Lincoln was still able to be thankful for what little he has. He said he has struggled to stay employed since leaving the military in the early 1990s.

Besides his VA benefits from his time in the Army and $800 in Social Security benefits a month, Lincoln doesn't have much, which he's more keenly aware of now that he's lost it.

"People don't realize until they are in the same boat where we are at," Lincoln said. "They should be thankful they have a place overhead and not in the same predicament we are. Many of us are struggling."

A Barton's Crossing employee said that for the holidays, most of the tenants had gone home, except for Lincoln. The employee said she could not provide any information on tenants because of federal

In years past, Lincoln said he would visit his mother's house in Adams, but she passed away last year from cancer on Mother's Day.

Lincoln has five brothers and a sister in Cheshire, but he said he would rather stay at the shelter.

According to Lincoln, he joined the army in the 1970s as a teenager and served through the early 1990s and Desert Storm.

"I am just thankful for higher spirits," Lincoln said. "That I have a place and new friends."

There were many others who found thanks in what many would take for granted.

Pittsfield resident Vicki Vaughn was among the many to crowd the Christian Center before the doors closed at 2 p.m.

On Thursday, Ellen Merritt, executive director of the Christian Center, said they would provide 350 meals for the sick, shuttered and elderly.

Cooking the turkeys began Monday, Merritt said, and she had an army of 65 people come out to deliver and serve food.

For Vaughn, a single mother of a 22-year-old, she was thankful for peace of mind.

In the last year, her son Ryan has started to exert his independence, which added stress to her life.

She got a new job as an activity assistant at the Berkshire Health System, and she started to fret about her job security in a tough economy.

"It's competitive out there," Vaughn said.

Nothing has changed -- her son still wants to be independent and she continues in the same job -- but she was more comfortable about her life after taking advantage of resources and support at the center, she said.

"I am grateful to be here and be myself."


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