Loyola University New Orleans staffer and Music Industry Studies alum Georgia McBride ’06 has a passion for service. As a career development coordinator for the university, her job is to help students find jobs that send them on their career paths to become productive members of society. While this is commendable in and of itself, McBride’s real passion involves helping a group of people whose reality is somewhat dark and full of uncertainty, who are more often than not, living on the fringe of society.
Two years ago, McBride and friends Kim Thompson, Laura Rockett and Heather Pomfret co-founded the Crescent City Cafe to provide New Orleans’ homeless with a restaurant-quality food and dining experience that gives them more than just a hot meal. According to McBride, the main thing they serve their guests is dignity.
The cafe serves breakfast to the homeless the first Saturday of every month in the fellowship hall at Rayne Memorial Methodist Church at 3900 St. Charles Ave. However, the Crescent City Cafe is not to be mistaken for a soup kitchen. It provides a setting, service and food that is more reminiscent of a high quality restaurant.
“The main mission of the cafe is to demonstrate dignity to people who are homeless and low-income and who could never afford to eat in a nice restaurant,” McBride said. “Our guests come between 8 - 9:30 a.m. and we usually have two or three great breakfast specials, such as quiche and side items, like pumpkin muffins. They sit at big round tables with white table cloths and real silverware and are waited on by our volunteer staff. I’ve been told by one of our guests that this is their favorite place in the whole world for them. That’s amazing.”
McBride says another goal of the restaurant is to encourage meaningful interaction between the patrons and volunteers in an effort to put a “real face” on the homeless population in New Orleans. Volunteers range in age from 18 – 40, some of them students, some young professionals, and others more established in their lives and careers. According to McBride, they are all looking for a way to give back to those less fortunate.
“With this set up, we’ve encouraged our volunteers to sit down with our guests and get to know them. The long-term goal is simple. As our volunteers leave and go on to successful careers, they now know somebody who’s homeless,” said McBride. “Before it would have been easy to pigeonhole someone into a category, but now they know someone who’s faced a homeless condition and they see them as a person, rather than a problem.”
For the last two years, the cafe has been supported by members of the faith community, as well as Brown’s Dairy. McBride said they hope to expand the restaurant’s days and hours of operation as financial support grows. To support or volunteer the Crescent City Cafe, contact McBride at firstname.lastname@example.org or 504-865-3860.