Young man who was accidentally invited to ‘grandma’s’ Thanksgiving as a teen celebrates 6th year of dinner together

As Nathan Butler and his fiancée celebrate six years of providing a safe space for those on the margins in Calgary, he says he wants his dinners to be a good influence

Young man who was accidentally invited to ‘grandma’s’ Thanksgiving as a teen celebrates 6th year of dinner together

When Nathan Butler was invited to Thanksgiving dinner by his aunt five years ago, it meant a little bit of extra care for his aunt and uncle. He didn’t have much money, and he wasn’t invited. But as he and his fiancée Janeth Romero enjoyed dinner with his grandparents and aunt, they imagined their life together with an inclusive attitude.

And now, for the last six years, they have kept that vision alive. The couple have started to put their dream to reality through their Nathan’s Thanksgiving Dinner concept, which serves over 200 meals each year.

“We always make sure people know they don’t have to be homeless or struggling to afford meals,” Butler said. “We try to get a wide range of people. People in all different communities come through the doors.”

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Although Butler’s family aren’t middle class, he says the home business that gave him the money to buy a restaurant was already in the family and already doing well. In addition to feeding those in need, Butler hopes to bring the experiences and activities of his family and some of the tradition of his late grandfather’s own Thanksgiving dinners. His grandparents would give him a turkey each year for Thanksgiving, a mess of pancakes and takeout turkey, and then he’d deliver it to a family who didn’t have the wherewithal to purchase a turkey.

Now Butler wants to continue that legacy by sharing food with families in need.

“Everybody who walks through the door, their intentions are right,” he said. “We want to make sure that they feel valued and respected and loved. And for my whole family, the thing I take to heart is it doesn’t matter what your background is. It doesn’t matter if you have a high job, a low job. It’s just about your intention.”

For Romero, every Thanksgiving is an opportunity to reflect on the past and appreciate the present.

“It’s very special, because she actually lives here,” Romero said. “She’s a wonderful person and she understands that being adopted by a loving family, and that’s what we’re trying to provide.”

“I can see that he’s making sure the family environment stays intact,” she added. “And I think it makes a huge difference in people’s lives, especially kids.”

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