Shavonne Henry, who organized a Thanksgiving Day dinner in honor of former Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene “Gene” Moore. | Michael Romain/VFP
Thursday, November 24, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Crowds strolled in and out of the lower level of Maywood’s Second Baptist Church, 436 S. 13th Ave., today during a Thanksgiving feast fit for a man who, when he was alive, was known throughout Cook County for his gift of giving.
Eugene “Gene” Moore, the first African American to represent the 7th District and a former Cook County Recorder of Deeds, passed away in June, but relatives and supporters of the late political powerhouse are making sure that his legacy doesn’t die with him.
“Back in the day, when he was a state representative, he used to feed the homeless,” said Shavonne Henry.
Henry, along with her mother Sue, decided to replicate Moore’s largesse during a dinner held at Moore’s longtime church home this afternoon. Henry said she and her mother corralled a committee of people back in the summer to start planning the dinner. Most of the food, which anyone who showed up at the church could eat freely, was donated by community members.
“After he passed, I sat at home and God gave it to me to do this,” Shavonne said. “I put it on Facebook to see what would be the response and it’s been nothing but good things happening ever since.”
Henry said the event was particularly targeted to senior citizens and those who may not have a family to go to. But, regardless of your personal story, Henry said, if you showed up, you had a right to eat.
“Gene didn’t care who you were,” she said. “If somebody walked in the door, he said, ‘Feed them!’ Because you never know if you’re going to be on the other side of the table. I just wanted to bring that back.”
For two of Moore’s grandchildren, Chase and Cheyenne Moore, (pictured below left), who were raised by their grandfather, today’s dinner was particularly resonant.
“Shavonne brought the idea to me back in August or September and asked me how I felt about it and said do we think we can pull it off,” said Chase. “She got our blessings.
“I used to go with him all the time when he would serve people in Maywood on Thanksgiving,” he said. “The homeless, the less fortunate would come out and we’d serve them food and give them canned goods. We did it every year until he became recorder.”
“This has been a hard year for me losing my grandaddy and my great-grandaddy [Eugene Moore’s father, who died in January], but seeing how people appreciate him makes me really, really happy,” said Cheyenne. “I think about my grandaddy everyday. Me and my brother miss him everyday. This is really the first time we’ve been on our own.”
Both Cheyenne and Chase, in addition to the Henrys, have pledged to keep the tradition going, with Shavonne noting that she’s looking into planning a similar feast during the Christmas holiday.
“We have to keep this going and keep giving back,” said Chase. “What people need to understand is that our grandfather never did this because he was a politician. He really loved Maywood. If he were alive, he’d be here on one leg, in a wheelchair, sick, whatever. He wouldn’t miss this for anything.”
“He loved this town and this church so much,” said Cheyenne.
Now, said Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, it’s up to the town to show that love in return. The mayor noted that, in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, the village handed out more than 300 turkeys to numerous local food pantries. It’s an annual tradition that’s a fixture in the budget.
Those 300 free turkeys were on top of the nearly 400 distributed by the Maywood nonprofit PLCCA and several dozen, donated by a local business, that were distributed by the Maywood Police Department.
Thursday’s dinner in honor of Eugene Moore shows that they’re acts of kindness that keep on giving, the mayor said.
“What we’re doing is reliving his legacy, because he did it for the people,” she said. “Gene was a people’s person.” VFP