Metro Weekly

Food & Friends to Honor Frontline Workers at Gala

The service organization will honor 8 local heroes for their work helping the city survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

A volunteer spoons out food for packaging and delivery – Photo: Food & Friends

Food & Friends will honor eight local frontline workers at its “Honoring Our Heroes” gala, which will be held on June 13 at the Marriott Marquis in Washington’s Mount Vernon Square neighborhood. 

The eight award recipients – whose ranks include doctors, nurses, firefighters, chefs, teachers, and other community leaders – are being celebrated for their work and commitment to keeping the Washington Metro area safe and operational during the darkest days of the pandemic.

The honorees are:

  • Chief Oluwafunmike Omasere, the Battalion Chief of DC Fire and EMS
  • Chefs Teresa Padilla and Geraldine Mendoza, the co-founders of Taqueria Xochi
  • Dominique Foster, the 2022 D.C. Teacher of the Year and a community organizer at Friendship Public Charter School
  • Alvin Chen and Jeffrey Naber, two volunteers with Food & Friends
  • Reba Miller, an ICU nurse at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital
  • Dr. Bruno Petinaux, the chief medical officer at George Washington University Hospital

“In unique ways, each of these leaders embodies the spirit of Food & Friends’ commitment to providing life-sustaining nourishment to our neighbors in need,” Jay Shepley, the communications director for Food & Friends, said in a statement. “As individuals, they touched the lives and elevated the spirits of community members across the region. Together, they offer an expansive vision of what it means to serve others.”

In addition to recognizing the frontline workers, the gala will also help raise essential operating funds for Food & Friends, which provides home-delivered, medically-tailored meals and nutritional therapy to Washingtonians living with cancer, advanced HIV, AIDS, and other serious illnesses.

This year’s gala will take the place of Food & Friends’ “Chef’s Best” dinner and action, which is typically one of the service organization’s top fundraising event. Organizers say that Chef’s Best will return again next year, but for now, it’s time to honor those whose efforts often went unrecognized or underappreciated during the pandemic.

“Each honoree represents the core values of Food & Friends and exemplifies our mission to improve the lives and health of those around us,” Carrie Stoltzfus, the executive director of Food & Friends, said in a statement. “After more than two years of challenge and distance, Honoring Our Heroes is the event we’ve all been waiting for.”

Food & Friends’ “Honoring Our Heroes” gala will be held on Monday, June 13, beginning with a cocktail reception at 6:15 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m.

Both a ticket and proof of vaccination will be required for admission. For tickets and more information, visit

Leave a Comment:

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!