Phils lend hand, spread holiday cheer at shelter

Phils lend hand, spread holiday cheer at shelter

PHILADELPHIA -- Days like Monday can change a life.

The Phillies continued their 15-year holiday tradition of serving meals to more than 200 homeless at the Bethesda Project's Our Brothers' Place, which is a shelter for 149 homeless men. The group included Phillies president Andy MacPhail, chairman David Montgomery, general manager Matt Klentak, broadcasters Larry Andersen, Scott Franzke, Ben Davis and Gregg Murphy, and the Phillie Phanatic.

"A lot of the people here sometimes feel forgotten by the world around them, by society," said Father Domenic Rossi, who founded Bethesda Project in 1979. "This is one day that they realize that somebody is thinking of them, that they're not forgotten."

Last year, one of the Our Brothers' Place residents, Abraham Dentis, prepared a resume and handed it to Klentak. Dentis told Klentak that he dreamed about working for the Phillies.

Klentak accepted the resume and passed it along to Phillies vice president of human resources and customer services Kathy Killian. The Phillies interviewed and hired Dentis, who currently works for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in the kitchens in the executive and press dining rooms.

"That's just the Phillies taking this partnership to a new level," Bethesda Project chief executive officer Tina Pagotto said. "It's really recognizing that everybody needs a chance. It's really cool. We're really proud of him."

Kenneth Carter, 29, has lived at the shelter for a year. He described how much the Phillies' presence at the shelter Monday means to the people there.

"Most of the guys spend most of their time out in the streets," he said. "Most of the time, these guys will walk past this place. I'll say, 'Look, come on by. They'll give you a hot meal.' And from time to time, they do come in. But this means a lot to me because, knowing that I might not be with my family for Christmas, it seems I've built a family here."

Phillies serve homeless dinner

Family was a common theme Monday.

"Our mission is to be family with those who have none," Pagotto said. "Families form traditions. They come together, they celebrate, year after year. And today's annual holiday luncheon with the Phillies has been one of our cherished family traditions."

"It's hard to believe that it's been 15 years since we started this tradition," Montgomery added. "As I reflect on that entire period of time, it's pretty special. We're delighted and honored to be part of your family today."

The family enjoyed the Phanatic sprinting around the dining hall, goofing around and posing for photos. It enjoyed its meals and the Phillies caps, T-shirts and socks it received afterward.

It lifted its spirits.

"There are different reasons why people are homeless," Rossi said. "But I think that pretty much all the homeless in some way or another feel isolated. The mission of Bethesda Project is to be family, to kind of connect people so they don't feel all alone. This is an opportunity for them to connect. They feel connected. They feel connected with society in general because the Phillies represent the city."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.