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By Danielle Achin


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FRAMINGHAM – Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks for the blessings of the harvest and of the past yea. This past Thanksgiving, Sam Houle and his team made sure everyone had a seat at a dinner table.

A senior at Framingham State University, Houle is also a resident assistant (RA), as part of the department of Residence Life.

Every year there are residents, who need permanent housing, or cannot always travel home for the breaks, especially short ones like Thanksgiving, and remain on campus, said Houle.

So this Thanksgiving, he and other served Thanksgiving to all still on campus..

“As someone who got a taste of what college life was like prior to COVID-19 as a freshman in the 2019-2020 school year, and in my subsequent years as an RA tasked with community building when mask mandates, no-guest policies, and zoom classes where in full effect, I experienced all of our great communities on campus wither away,” said the Ashland resident.

“I hated seeing that … I just like seeing a community form on its own and food is one of the best ways I know for that to happen organically,” he added.

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The Office of Residence Life at Framingham State provided the lion’s share of funding for Thanksgiving dinner. The office also gave Houle and other students a place to hold the dinner. With those two items off his list, Houle and his team began preparations for the holiday break meal.

Houle said he could not have done this alone and named a few key people putting this event together.

“Area Director Joe Barbagallo helped publicize and facilitate the Reslife processes we needed to hold an event like this,” he said. “Administrative Resident Assistant of Larned Hall Zoe Ryan-Williams helped me shop, cook, prep, and clean throughout the whole process and I could not have done it without her.”

Houle added Dennis Ilves of Massachusetts Maritime Academy helped with set up and cleaning for the dinner itself.

Helping out with the event, Ryan-Williams said she thought Houle’s Thanksgiving dinner was such a thoughtful idea and immediately wanted to help him as he has helped her with events many times before.

“Our goal was to bring joy and boost morale for people who may not have had an opportunity to spend time with people during the holidays,” she said. “It’s a misconception that RAs want to get students in trouble and find problems, but Sam and I do this role because we care for people and want to see people connect and thrive here at Framingham State.”

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Ryan-Williams said she was overjoyed seeing Houle’s residence hall community together and seeing people connect during the holiday.

“Sam knows my ‘bread and butter’ is to help those in need and this is why he asked me to tag along on this event. When Sam and I worked on the same RA staff, we would plan events together and we always had a good time doing it.”

Although unsure of how many would attend the event, Houle said almost all the food was gone, after the two hours.

“We had a few residents join us for the whole meal, but we had a couple dozen come by and get plates with friends and chat over the two hours we served dinner. Almost all the food was gone by the end, which was great because I do not like wasting food – and we made a lot of it,” he said.

Although Houle is graduating this year, Ryan-Williams said she wants to keep this tradition going in the good spirit of the holidays and to emphasize how much resident assistants care for the residents and the community of Framingham State.

“We want to do this again for sure. Sam is graduating this year and it seems as though he always passes the baton to me so next year I do want to plan a Thanksgiving for all the residents staying over break again,” she said.

Danielle Achin is a fall 2022 SOURCE intern. She is a senior English major with a concentration in journalism and a minor in psychology at Framingham State University. Danielle has been an athlete since she started gymnastics at age 4. She joined the Framingham State cheerleading team freshman year and recently won the 2022 National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) National Championship for the first time in Framingham State history. She is also one of the Sports editors for Framingham State’s student newspaper The Gatepost.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.