Lifestyle

Black Greeks Target Homeless in Day of Service

Handouts Set for McPherson Square, St. Elizabeths in July

The leaders of the Black Greek Festival Foundation, a group of African American fraternity and sorority members in the Washington area, will assist homeless persons in the District on July 17 in what the BGFF labels a Day of Service.

Starting at 10 a.m. on July 17, members of college-based Greek-letter organizations will meet at McPherson Square in Northwest to distribute free hygiene products, clothing, sleeping bags and other necessities for the homeless population that tends to congregate there. Natalie Andrade, a co-director of the Day of Service, said “from the very beginning we wanted to focus on serving the homeless in the community.”

“Many homeless people are experiencing trauma during the COVID-19 period,” Andrade said. “Not only are they having problems getting permanent housing, but there are food insecurity and personal safety concerns.”

Andrade, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, realizes that Black Greeks have a reputation in the Washington area centered on socializing, not social justice.

She said the BGFF, through its Day of Service, will give Greek organization members and the general public the chance to help those who are less fortunate. Large Black Greek picnics take place in cities like Atlanta and Philadelphia but Andrade said the BGFF focuses on older and more mature members who want to help people “and not just have a big party.”

The Day of Service has received the support of Target, a retail outlet, and DMV Does Good, a Bowie, Md., nonprofit service group. Both are providing needed products. In addition, more than 500 hygiene samples, donated by The Honey Pot Company, a female personal products manufacturer, are to be distributed to the Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter in Ward 7.

Andrade said McPherson Square became the focal point of the Day of Service because “it is centrally located and … close to different communities.”

“We received recommendations from many people in the city and McPherson Square consistently was mentioned as a place where homeless people tend to be,” she said. “Next year, we will consider other areas of the city such as neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River. We want to go where the need is.”

Andrade said in July, there will be virtual panel discussions focused on the problems of homeless youth and families with experts in the fields of social work, education and the nonprofit sector. Additionally, on July 24, the Black Greek Festival will take place on the campus of St. Elizabeths East. There will be in-person events such as information booths, vendors, food trucks, music and games.

Sponsors for the festival include Miles & Stockbridge’s Black Business & Start-Up Initiative and the Sponsorship Concierge, the D.C. Board of Elections, the Mayor’s Office on African American Affairs, Cricket Wireless, Greekaholics, Battery Xchange and Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey are also partnering with the BGFF for the festival.

“We want to create an environment where people will remember their roots and celebrate the milestones of our culture,” Andrade said. “Everyone is welcome to attend our events. They are not just for Black Greeks only.”

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