One of the reasons mothers choose Gonzaga for their sons is the school’s tradition of “educating men for others.” That’s at the very heart of the call to service answered by the Gonzaga Mothers Club, especially through its work at the Father McKenna Center, the shelter in the lower level of St. Aloysius Church. The center provides services to the poor and homeless.

Gonzaga McKenna Center 2017-2018 Service Committee Chairs

Erin Donovan
Morgean Hirt
Michelle Aldridge
Valerie Jopeck

Questions? Contact

About the McKenna Center
The Father McKenna Center, established in 1983, is a shelter located next to Gonzaga in the lower level of St. Aloysius Church. It provides a program of services for the poor and homeless in the surrounding Washington, D.C., neighborhood. It was founded to carry on the legacy of Father Horace McKenna, a saintly priest who served at the church from 1953-1958, returning in 1964 until his death in 1982. To learn more about McKenna Center, click here to visit its website.

What We Do:

The McKenna Center operates in the basement of St. Aloysius Church year-round, providing food, counselling and emergency assistance to those in need.  From November 1 – March 31st the Center also provides overnight accommodation, a hot meal and a supportive environment to 20 men in the Hypothermia Program.  The goal of the Program is to provide a structure and skills to enable a move to either transitional or permanent housing at the end of the winter.

The Gonzaga Mothers Club provides meals for the men, eats with the men, and volunteers to heat, serve and clean-up every day of the winter.  This sharing of conversation and a meal prepared with love is a key part of the Program’s success.  It has been a transformative experience for many Gonzaga families.  The Center relies on us to provide these meals and we take our commitment of support to heart – without it the Hypothermia Program would not be available.

We ask families to volunteer for two meals/volunteering/both each year – we provide meals every night, including weekends and holidays, which can be a wonderful time to include your whole family.  You can sign-up for either or both of these activities below.  Volunteering is from 6:30 to 8:30 in the evening; meals can be dropped off anytime up to 1pm the day of your sign up; if doing both, you can bring the meal with you.

There’s a lot of information but reading the details will make it much more clear what you’re committing to!


Please sign-up here using Sign-up Genius



  • When you sign up, please enter your email address to facilitate communication, and (for meals) include a short description of the meal you plan to donate. 
  • If you find yourself unable to volunteer or provide the meal for which you signed up, PLEASE coordinate with another family to trade dates and notify Joanna Hoffschneider at or 301 873 9481.  SignUp Genius allows you to request a swap.
  • If you cannot find a swap or have an emergency, please contact Joanna as soon as possible


1. You can volunteer to cook for 10 or 20 people.  Many families partner together to volunteer for the evening.  Others choose to cook for 20 themselves.

2. Prepare food for either 10 or 20 men (depending if you signed up for one or two slots), plus however many volunteers are in your group/family.

3. If you sign up for one slot or partner with another family, please coordinate so you are cooking similar meals or dividing the parts of the meal you plan together.

4. Meals should include:

    a. A nutritious entree, consisting of meat/starch/vegetable, or a casserole, a stew, or a hearty soup. Chili and lasagna are fine but the men would also be pleased to have something different. Homemade food is great, but store-bought food is fine too.  Salad or a vegetable side is always appreciated.  NOTE:  if you are cooking pork, please also provide a substitute – many of the men do not eat pork.

    b. Two loaves of bread, or the equivalent in rolls or crackers with margarine.

    c. Fresh fruit or a simple dessert, such as cookies or brownies.

5. You do not have to supply plates, napkins or utensils.  The Center has a fully equipped commercial kitchen.

Packaging Your Meal:

1. If you are dropping off meals:

    a. Put your meal in disposable plastic or aluminum foil containers. Containers cannot be returned to you. 

    b. Label the containers "Hypothermia Shelter," mark your name and your scheduled date, and indicate if the meal should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. You can simply write on the foil cover using a "Sharpie."

    c. Supply reheating instructions.

2. If you are bringing your meal and volunteering:

    a. You can either bring your meal in disposable containers or in your own pots.

    b. There is a supply of plastic boxes for any leftovers so you will be able to take your own containers away with you. 

Delivering your meals

1.     If you are volunteering to serve your meal, simply bring it with you when you arrive at 6:30.

a.     The entrance to the McKenna Center is on North Capitol Street, immediately to the left (South) of the St. Aloysius Church steps.  Come in the door, walk through the foyer meeting space and come back to the kitchen through the old church.

b.     If the door is locked, knock loudly.

        2.     If you are not volunteering to serve on the night you are cooking:

a.     You can deliver your meal a day or two ahead of time, your son can bring it to school, or you can deliver on the day by 1pm.

b.     Saturday and Sunday meals should be delivered by 1pm on Friday.

c.     Meals for school holidays should be delivered in advance or between 8 and 1 on the day of the holiday.

d.     Remember to label your meal clearly (see Packaging above)

e.     If your son delivers the meal before school (after 7:30 am), he should take it to McKenna Center's kitchen door off the inner courtyard. He can give the meal to the Kitchen Manager, Mark Buckley or to the kitchen staff.

        3.     We recommend parking in the guest parking in the garage or on the street.  Make sure                    you obey parking restrictions.  There is free parking in the Walmart lot for 2 hours but be                 mindful that after 2 hours you must pay.”  If dropping off, you can temporarily park in the                drive beside the church while you run food into the kitchen

        4.     If there is a problem with delivery call the McKenna Center at 202 842 1112 or contact the Center Services Manager, Cortez McDaniel, at 202 615 5472. 


a.     This is truly an exceptional volunteer opportunity – to provide not just food but also service and caring.  We need a minimum of two volunteers every night, while many hands make light work if you wish to include your whole family.

b.     Children are very welcome but pre-high schoolers should be in their parents’ sight at all times.

c.     Volunteers will heat up the meals (provided by themselves or another volunteer), serve dinner, sit and eat with the men staying at the Center, then clean up after dinner.

d.     Plan to arrive at 6:30, serve dinner at 7:15, and leave by 8:30.

e.     There will always be a McKenna Center staff member present to provide assistance and direction while leading the evening’s activities at the Center.

There is a Standing Need for the Following Items:
(Travel sizes of toiletries preferred)
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Razors/Shaving Cream
  • New Socks and New Underwear (Size 32 up)
  • Gently Used Blankets
  • Men’s Clothing for Current Season (gently used is fine)
  • Magazines and books (gently used is fine)
  • Peanut butter
Bring your donations to any GMC meeting!  You may also send donations with your sons to place in the green bin at the end of Dooley Hall.

Thank you on behalf of the needy men at the McKenna Center!