Twenty-four low-income young mothers from Richmond will be treated to a Mother’s Day brunch on Saturday hosted by Salute E Vita Ristorante in Marina Bay.
The brunch, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., is an annual event hosted by Salute’s owner Menbere Aklilu, who herself was a homeless single mother before a kindhearted person assisted her.
The young mothers, all residents of the Pullman Point Apartments housing development, will begin their Mother’s Day with a limousine drive to Salute’s before receiving the VIP treatment for brunch. Aklilu will also talk to the young moms about her journey from homelessness to becoming a business owner, and will share life skills and the importance of proper grooming and etiquette when striving to be successful.
The afternoon will end “Oprah style,” with a gift for every participant.
Aklilu recently won the Jefferson Award honoring community and public volunteerism. Known for her charitable works, on Thanksgiving Day she invites more than a thousand homeless and struggling veterans into Salute’s for a fine-dining meal. She also holds etiquette courses at her restaurant for local youth, which not only teaches manners but also life lessons.
Aklilu has also hired one of the Pullman Point Apartments residents to work at her restaurant, according to Kathleen Sullivan, the resident services coordinator at the development.
“These mothers are like most young moms in need of good role models and resources to support their desires to make better lives for their children,” Sullivan said.
Aklilu, who was raised in Ethiopia, came from incredible struggle where she witnessed her mother’s murder, became the victim of domestic violence and was also a homeless mother. She said she later rebound with the help of a single caring person who helped her open her restaurant.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the Mother’s Day brunch is Sunday, when it is in fact Saturday.