“DC Goes Tiki” To Support Samaritan Inns

By Sonya Schweitzer

For almost 40 years, Samaritan Inns has helped Washington, DC, and residents overcome their addictions and homelessness. Its programs have supported thousands of men and women break the cycle of addiction and homelessness and reclaim their lives.

On April 12, 2023, Samaritan Inns brought a little “Tiki” to Washington, DC. To acknowledge National Alcohol Awareness Month, a non-alcohol soiree was planned, including a battle of mocktails. With a Tiki theme, the mocktails, food, and music all fit a night of Polynesian fun. It was a night for “DC Goes Tiki.”

Mixologists Shake It Up…

As mocktails gain recognition in local bars, tasting rooms, and restaurants, it was easy to find mixologists to take up the competition challenge.


[from left to right] Lauren C. Vaughan, president and CEO for Samaritan Inns; JR Rena, mixologist at Dirty Habit DC and winner of Battle of the Mocktails; and Leon Harris, NBC4 anchor, and emcee for Zero Proof Soiree and Battle of the Mocktails.

Mixologists from eight popular DC area restaurants and bars created their signature mocktails (non-alcoholic drinks) to compete for the BEST MOCKTAIL IN DC, where the audience was the judge and NBC4’s Leon Harris was the emcee. The mixologists receiving the most Battle of the Mocktails votes were JR Rena from Dirty Habit DC (winner), Solomon Paul from Get Plated (second place), and Brienne Francois from Maryland Live Casino (third place).

The winning mocktail created by Dirty Habit DC’s JR Rena was called Fictitious Friend, and it contained shiso shrub, yuzu, pomegranate, cardamom, and soda.

An Evening of Inspiration

The inspiring story of Martelis Thomas, a building manager with Samaritan Inns for more than 20 years and in his 28th year of recovery, thanks to the support of Samaritan Inns, was shared through a short video at the Zero Proof event.

Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” joined as a special guest for the evening and delivered remarks at the event. Seeking greater involvement with local nonprofits, Todd began prepping meals with Samaritan Inns many years ago and was inspired deeply by the organization’s mission.

[from left to right] Chuck Todd, Moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press” and Zero Proof Soiree & Battle of the Mocktails special guest; Lauren C. Vaughan, president and CEO for Samaritan Inns; Martelis Thomas, a building manager for Samaritan Inns, whose recovery story was shared at the event; and Leon Harris, News4 Anchor, and event emcee.

Do You Need to Include Alcohol?

Do you need to include alcohol to host a successful DC event? Guests all agreed that the answer was “NO!”  At the event, we also spoke to Lauren C. Vaughan, president and CEO of Samaritan Inns.

“We are grateful to the community for coming out to support our first-ever fundraiser during Alcohol Awareness Month,” said Lauren C. Vaughan, president and CEO of Samaritan Inns. “We restore hope for people in DC who are inflicted by homelessness and addiction, and, sadly, the need for our services is especially great after the pandemic. On the bright side, the challenges created or exacerbated by the pandemic didn’t stop us. We’re proud to have remained open and operational, as well as continued to grow and expand our services to meet the needs of our community.”

Guests also agreed that they look forward to future alcohol-free events to sponsor Samaritan Inns, such as the annual golf tournament and future themed events.

Raising Awareness and Funding

More than 200 members of the DC community attended the event, which raised nearly $100,000. The event was held in honor of Alcohol Awareness Month (April) to bring awareness to the struggles of addiction and raise funds to support Samaritan Inns’ mission of providing residential addiction treatment and recovery services to homeless and at-risk men, women, and women with children who suffer from drug and alcohol addictions.


[from left to right] Chuck Todd, Moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press” and Zero Proof Soiree & Battle of the Mocktails special guest; Lauren C. Vaughan, president, and CEO, of Samaritan Inns; Leon Harris, News4 anchor, and event emcee; Jim Davis, president and CEO of Davis Construction, event chair and board member for Samaritan Inns

Premier sponsors for the Zero Proof Soirée at the Gold level included Clark Construction, Davis Construction, and Rich and Nancy Tucker. Silver-level supporters included The Anderson Company, Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness, Marjorie and John Connell, Destination DC, Horizon Government Affairs, Christine and Steffen Johnson, The Rehancement Group, and Redbrick. 

We thank our sponsors, guests, and mixologists for making “DC Goes Tiki” a success. We look forward to seeing you at the next Samaritan Inns event.

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