OAKLAND (KPIX 5) His well-known nightclub has hosted stars like Beyonce, Michael Jordan, and Muhammed Ali. But over the years, this week’s Jefferson Award winner and Oakland businessman has also opened his doors to those in need.
Geoffrey Pete reminds volunteers that the hundreds of homeless and underserved people they’re serving are their honored guests.
“When you bring them their plate and get their ticket, you say, ‘Thank you for the opportunity to serve you,'” Pete instructed. “The notion that it’s more blessed to give than receive. Oh, it makes you feel so, so, so, so much better,” he explained.
For more than ten years, the businessman has hosted free holiday dinners with all the trimmings at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, his arts and entertainment venue in downtown Oakland.
Low income folks like James Crayton feel welcome.
“It shows compassion in this world is still here,” Crayton said. “That’s the way I feel, very blessed.”
Pete usually schedules the dinners for major holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Labor Day, and July Fourth. He organizes the food and recruits volunteers and donors ..
The Thanksgiving meal and free haircuts are sponsored by former NBA players Antonio Davis and Aaron Gordon.
Lakeashia Bunts, who’s worked at the nightclub as a waitress and hostess, chooses to volunteer, inspired by Pete’s example.
“He wants to give, he wants to help,” she said.
Pete says he learned how to serve others from his parents.
“The best thing they could have done is to teach us compassion,” he stated.
His father, a steelworker, and mother, an executive assistant, had hearts for others.
He recalled an incident that sticks with him today.
“My mother walked out of here from my daughter’s 16th birthday and there was somebody in the doorway, seemingly homeless. She started crying and said, ‘That could’ve been any of my sons,'” Pete explained.
As a business leader, Pete also mentors local young people, including his employees.
He urged Dr. Feleshia Apps to follow her dream to become a dentist.
“When I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to go to school and was giving up, he didn’t let me. He’s always been a very encouraging person,” said Apps.
Later, “He came to my graduation,” she smiled.
Over the years, Pete has also helped about 15 formerly incarcerated people start new lives.
He’s hired them at his club as waiters and maintenance workers.
So for his compassion and leadership in his downtown Oakland community. this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Geoffrey Pete.