By James Wright, Special to the AFRO,

Faith leaders pastoring in Ward 8 participated in an outreach event to help the homeless and possibly bring new members to their congregations.

The Ward 8 Faith Partners Breakfast Fellowship was held Sept.8 at the Men’s Shelter, operated by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, on the campus of St. Elizabeths East. The event was the result of a partnership of the Anacostia Coordinating Council, the East of the River Clergy Police Community Partnership and the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative.

The Catholic Charities Men’s Shelter is located in Ward 8. (Courtesy Photo)

“We are here to serve you and to help you,” the Rev. Wanda Thompson, pastor of the Ambassador Baptist Church and the co-chair of the Ward 8 Faith Leaders Breakfast Committee, said to the homeless men attending.

Official District of Columbia government data reveals that there are 6,904 homeless people, including members of families, in the city. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), when sworn into office in January 2015, prioritized making homelessness “rare, brief and non-recurring” and has empowered the District’s Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services HyeSook Chung to use tools to help homeless individuals find permanent housing.

The Men’s Shelter is in a renovated building north of the R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center. Angela Lewis of Catholic Charities told the AFRO the shelter can hold up to 400 people comfortably.

The shelter is open to any male 18-years-old and older and provides a hot dinner, access to case management staff, showers and a bed on a nightly basis. The facility is open from 7 p.m.-7 a.m. daily.

In the shelter’s cafeteria, there was a buffet style breakfast of bacon, sausages, glazed apples, biscuits, fruit, scrambled eggs, fruit bars and beverages such as orange juice and bottled water. The event was catered by Imani Catering, owned by Anacostia Coordinating Council board chairman Lamont Mitchell.

The men ate their food while listening to the sounds of DJ 21 Flavas.

Members of the clergy such as the Rev. E. Gail Holness and D.C. Baptist Convention Executive Director the Rev. Andre Towner sat down with the men and talked about their concerns and their journey with Christ. That is exactly the purpose of the event, the Executive Director of the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative,  Perry Moon, told the AFRO.

“We served about 300 men today,” Moon said. “They have been coming in and out of the cafeteria. This gives the ministers of the ward to fellowship with the men here and become a part of the broader community.

“We are hoping local churches invite these men to come worship with them.”

George Hamilton, a resident of the shelter, told the AFRO he was pleased with the event. “This is wonderful and everyone is so nice,” Hamilton said. “I really liked that the clergy is interacting with us. We definitely need more ministers to come here.”

Former D.C. Council member Sandy Allen had voter registration cards for them to fill out. “In the District of Columbia, homeless people can vote,” Allen told the AFRO. “They can use this facility as an address.”

Another event sponsor was the U.S. General Services Administration on the campus of St. Elizabeths West. Their representative LaJuan Stevens told the AFRO, “We are always ready and willing to help the community.”