Residents at New Community Orange Senior were busy cooking a Thanksgiving feast for the entire building a week before the official holiday. Among the cooks were residents George and Rosalee Wedderburn.
The married couple prepared a roasted chicken, turkey as well as vegetables such as string beans for the gathering, which was held in the festively decorated community room.
For Rosalee, 73, cooking for a large group comes naturally for both she and her husband.
“That’s the way we were raised in Jamaica. Cook for each other. Cook for the community,” she said.
The couple contribute to special events and have grown a reputation for their culinary skills, according to Care Coordinator Sister Pauline Echebiri.
“They’re a very nice couple,” Sister Pauline said, adding, “They’re willing to help whenever you call them.”
George, 80, worked as a professional chef for many years at major hotels in Jamaica.
He can easily whip up native dishes such as curry goat, steamed fish, grilled lobster or ackee and codfish, which, he noted, is the Jamaican national dish.
Born in the suburban parish of St. James in Jamaica, George worked for years in the hotel industry. Rosalee worked in hotel housekeeping. George met his wife during the time that they both worked in the same city of Montego Bay, where she was born. They immigrated to the U.S. almost five years ago, with Rosalee arriving first and then filing papers for her husband. During that time, she worked as a custodian at Orange Public Schools. The couple have five children, two of whom are deceased.
While working in the hotel industry, Rosalee recalled meeting travelers from many different countries. Similarly at Orange Senior, she said, she has met folks from various backgrounds and walks of life.
An easy way—an inviting way—to bridge gaps among different people is through cooking and sharing food. For both the Wedderburns, it’s that simple: “We like to feed the people. They like it. We eat with them,” Rosalee said.