"I'm thankful to be alive, for having a roof over my head, for people that care about me," Washington said. "They helped me with everything. I couldn't ask for anything more."
Washington, who was homeless, has been clean for four months and now stays at St. Elizabeth's Recovery Residence, in North Philadelphia. To show his gratitude, he said, he volunteers to help others.
"The purpose is to really be thankful for the small and the big blessings, and the things that really matter - faith, friends and family," said Sister Mary Scullion, co-founder of Project HOME, which gives housing to the homeless.
Attendees Thursday included Project HOME residents, Fairmount residents and volunteers. They sang, ate and prayed together in a large room at the back of the building.
Kathy Crawford, 50, who is deaf, performed in sign language the Joe Pace song "I Can't Live Without Your Love," which blared from a boombox.
Crawford, who had been invited by a friend to perform at the service, has been searching for employment for five years. Last year, she discovered that she has an irregular heartbeat. Her doctor advised her to lose weight.
"Sometimes people look at my weight and think I'm going to be ineffective" at work, Crawford said. After she finished her performance, the crowd waved their hands in the air, a sign of applause. She smiled.
"I'm not giving up," she said. "I don't worry about it. I let God handle it."