Rí Rá Irish Pub & Restaurant will host its inaugural Thanksgiving brunch for homeless residents in Georgetown on Nov. 28. The restaurant, located on M Street, has collaborated with other local businesses and the Georgetown Ministry Center (GMC), a local organization serving homeless individuals, to put on the event. The Thanksgiving meal is expected to serve 150 guests from 8 to 10:30am.
The event serves Georgetown’s significant homeless population. Though the city saw an overall decrease in homeless individuals in 2019, more than 6,000 individuals continue to face homelessness according to the Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness
Beatris O’Connor, sales and events manager at Rí Rá, shared her excitement to be hosting this new event that fills an unmet need of the growing local homeless population. “We see a lot of lunches, a lot of dinners on Thanksgiving, but not many breakfasts. People still need to eat in the morning,” she said.
According to O’Connor, the brunch has been a collaborative effort with multiple local businesses and individuals. To put on the event, many local restaurants have donated dishes to feed the over one hundred guests. O’Connor stated that this offered businesses a chance to serve a group of residents that, though they might spend their time in Georgetown, may feel excluded and isolated. “This is our opportunity to serve the entire community,” she said.
The Georgetown neighborhood, in part due to its relative safety, attracts a significant number of homeless individuals. However, there is no traditional shelter in the neighborhood. GMC helps shelter ten residents per year, who stay at various congregations throughout the winter. The organization also offers street outreach, with trained staff that offer medical and psychiatric care. Since 2013, GMC has partnered with the GU’s Center for Social Justice to operate the Hypothermia Outreach Team, which patrols Georgetown on particularly cold nights to help individuals on the streets avoid hypothermia.
At the event, staff and volunteers from GMC will be available to discuss other long-term services with guests. GMC staff “assist with benefits applications, referrals, housing applications, and counseling” for homeless individuals, according to the organization’s website.
O’Connor is hopeful that this event will be a positive experience for all in attendance and that it is the start of a Thanksgiving tradition. “I’m hoping this can grow into something bigger for future years,” she said.