Wednesday, November 25, 2015

We just had a huge Thanksgiving dinner with our homeless family!

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In what is fast becoming one of our favorite holiday traditions, we held our 3rd annual Thanksgiving dinner for our homeless neighbors on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Held once again in the beautiful Pepco-Edison Place Art Gallery, more than 250 men and women who are homeless enjoyed a delicious meal served by more than 80 volunteers.

The room looked stunning, full of tables with white tablecloths and flowers surrounded by the artwork from clients of the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind nonprofit currently adorning the art gallery. The evening was filled with a sense of community, the interaction as volunteers and diners took time to get to know each other, tapping into what Pope Francis calls “a culture of encounter.”
Many volunteers come from Pepco, who provided the beautiful space as well. Exelon Corporation donated winter coats that each guest could take after dinner.

The meal itself, prepared by our own Catholic Charities Enterprises kitchen, was a delicious traditional Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, collard greens, cranberry sauce, rolls and pie for dessert. A trio of volunteers played dinner music quietly in the background as Father John moved from table to table, checking in on each guest and spending time laughing and talking.

Robert, one of our guests at dinner, sat with a pleasant glow around him after the meal. He raved about the food and talked about how good it all was. Then he talked about how he had lost both his wife and his daughter within a year of each other. He and his wife had been discussing retirement, and the tragic loss of his family sent him into a spiral that left him on the street. The meal had been a pleasant break for him from everything going on in his life.

“Coming together as a community on nights like tonight is so important for all of us,” said Father John. “We all need to be reminded how much we have in common, how much God calls us to encounter each other and to know the pain and happiness of someone else. I really love this dinner.”

Volunteer this Month:
Angel Tree: More than 800 kids in Catholic Charities programs and the community might not have a gift to open on Christmas without your help. Shopping for someone else is a great way to keep the Christmas spirit strong.  

SHARE Food Network: Join us at our warehouse next month to help spread Christmas cheer and buy a food package to help your neighbors! Just be ready to laugh a lot.

Holiday Helpers: Many of our programs do a Christmas gift donation and they could use some extra hands. Here’s a great chance to meetmany of the people we help.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Washington Wizards team up with military families to pack Cup of Joe bags

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After a long practice, athletes typically head to the locker room, ice their sore muscles and relax. But for the Washington Wizards, last Monday’s practice was anything but typical. As part of the NBA’s annual Hoops for Troops week, the Wizards invited members of the military community to watch practice and meet the team. After practice, the Wizards and their guests who were active-duty military, veterans, and families who lost a loved one in combat came together courtside to volunteer to help the homeless through our Cup of Joe program.

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, and almost all of the team jumped into the volunteering right away. Taking a break from their offseason, Washington Mystics players joined in as well. They took photos and teased each other on who was the best at packing bags (probably Otto Porter and Garrett Temple). Amid autographs and photos, more than 70 volunteers helped pack 1,000 breakfast bags to be delivered to our shelters.

Each night more than 1,000 men and women stay in our shelters. Each morning we want them to start the day with a meal. To help us meet this need, our Cup of Joe program teams up with community organizations to pack healthy breakfast to-go bags to be delivered to our shelters. The Washington Mystics volunteered last spring with Cup of Joe and this time the Wizards were more than happy to step up. 

"Whenever you have a chance to stand alongside a military veteran who served the country and helped protect you, it's always awesome," said Wizards Guard Bradley Beal. "And then we're coming together to be able give food away to homeless people, that's double whammy. For us to be here today truly means a lot to all of us." 

Watch a video recap of the event!

John Wall: a leader on the court and in the assembly line 

Cup of Joe in full swing at the Verizon Center

Otto Porter Jr. and members of the
military packing breakfast bags

Is your organization, parish, school or business interested in volunteering with Cup of Joe? Click here for more information. We would love to have you!