The UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health continues Thanksgiving Tradition

Center staff and volunteers will serve a Thanksgiving meal for clients and their families at the Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill on Nov. 27 from 10 a.m. - noon.

The UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health will continue the Thanksgiving tradition that was started by XDS Inc., a nonprofit which merged with the Center in 2011. The Thanksgiving event began 17 years ago when Thava Mahadevan, then executive director of XDS, Inc. and current director of operations at the Center, invited one of his clients to his home for the holiday. 

“The client would have spent the holiday alone and was likely to have increased symptoms as a result,” Mahadevan says. 

Thus began a tradition! “It was apparent that many of the clients that XDS served were alone during the holidays and would benefit from a Thanksgiving gathering.”

Unable to accommodate more people at his home, Mahadevan set out to create a special holiday dinner for the clients and families of XDS. During the early years, staff provided the food, potluck style, and the dinner was held at the XDS offices.  A few years later, an anonymous donor offered to pay for the food and the event was held at a larger venue.

For the third year, Chapel in the Pines has partnered with the Center on this event and provides a beautiful space and additional volunteers to help serve the meal.  Organizers expect 75 attendees this year.

“Some clients look forward to the holiday gathering and return each year to help serve the meal or just to visit with others even though they are feeling better and their lives have turned around,” he says.

Clients at the Center and the UNC Department of Psychiatry and anyone who needs a place to celebrate Thanksgiving is invited. To register for the meal, contact: Thava Mahadevan at

Part of the expense of providing this event is covered by the same anonymous donor, but the Center is accepting additional donations to increase the number of individuals that can benefit. Please contact Ed Binanay at for information on how you can help or donate. 

The UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health in the Department of Psychiatry serves individuals with severe mental illness and their families at locations in Orange, Chatham and Wake Counties.