The staff at Salute e Vita Ristorante was busier than usual on Friday — much for the sake of the 100 deserving moms set to be treated to a four-course, fine-dining brunch on Saturday at the well-known Marina Bay eatery.
For a sixth straight year, the restaurant’s famously charitable owner Menbere Aklilu will host her “Yes, You Are Worthy” Mother’s Day Brunch for mothers from local public housing and women’s support organizations.
The guests of honor for this year’s event have tragic stories. One is Josie Martinez, mother of Otilio “Nico” Martinez, who was fatally shot in front of Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Richmond, just blocks from his home, in September 2016, said Aklilu. Another honored guest is Decenthia Henderson, whose son Mark Henderson II was shot and killed on April 9 in his Crescent Park.
Also attending will be Barbara Harris and her family. Harris is the mother of Rashanda Franklin, who was murdered in front of her children in Richmond during a domestic violence incident last year. The killing deeply affected Aklilu, whose own harrowing past includes witnessing her mother being fatally shot at age 10, and who was later in life a victim of domestic violence. At last year’s Mother’s Day event, Aklilu announced she would take on the private school tuition for Franklin’s children, which she is now doing.
Those mothers will gather alongside many others in support of one another, and to forget about their struggles and to just feel good for the day, Aklilu said.
At the time Aklilu spoke with us Friday, she said the guests of honor were in the midst of being treated with hair, manicure and pedicure services at Beauty By Nature Salon in Point Richmond.
“And tomorrow, I will send a car to their house and they will come here to have a great Mother’s Day,” Aklilu said. “They will come here and have a four-course Mother’s Day lunch, receive a little gift, and exchange stories.”
Aklilu repeatedly says she does not pull this event off by herself. Businesses and organizations throughout the community contribute. Along with Beauty By Nature Salon, contributors include Michael Davenport Transportation, which is providing limousine service, and desserts provided by Galaxy Desserts. Guests will be served by volunteers from the community.
“I just open my doors,” Aklilu said.