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On tour of shelters, Menino touches hearts

At St. Francis House shelter in Boston, Raul Davila (left) showed Mayor Menino a book of pictures, while Mark Morrissey (right) applauded.Yoon S. Byun/Globe staff
The mayor was applauded as he made his way around St. Francis House.Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff/Globe staff

A cheer went up and the people pressed in around him, reaching for his hands, slapping his shoulders: the man they had all been waiting for.


Mayor Thomas M. Menino slowly made his way to the center of the crowd in the dining hall at St. Francis House, New England’s largest day shelter for the poor and homeless, where 42-year-old Raul Davila was waiting to present him with a bound black book brimming with pictures of the St. Francis thankful. “You will always be in our hearts,” Davila told the mayor, who was marking his last Thanksgiving as the city’s leader.


In the shelter, on the same street where bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, people who had come for Thanksgiving dinner spoke with pride of their “Boston Strong” city, and Menino reflected on his city’s sorrow and its spirit.

“Boston’s a resilient city, a stronger city today than before the Marathon bombings. You can see it in all the shelters I’ve gone to today,” he said, leaning on his cane in the lobby before departing for the homeless shelter on Long Island. “Boston’s about people. We have the strongest people in the world.”

He did not stop to eat — it’s doubtful he could have found a moment to lift a fork between handshakes and requests for pictures. As Menino and his entourage made their way out, Davila paused and watched him go. He will miss him, he said.

“The best mayor in the world,” he said, leading one hell of a tough city.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com