Houma-based catering service Gumbo House hosted its 18th Annual Holiday Open House benefiting single mothers in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parish.
Each year, Gumbo House distributes new clothing items to mothers in need. This year they distributed a whopping 630 items between Hope Restored Pregnancy Resource Center and the Catholic Charities of New Orleans, providing 60 mothers with six outfits apiece.
Philip Toups, owner of Gumbo House, said there’s an immense need for resources for young single mothers every year, but this year the holiday open house is a little more special.
“I have a soft spot for these young women who are 16-21 years old who decide to have their child and are overlooked. Not only are we still dealing with COVID, but we were just wrecked by Ida. Houma and Thibodaux were destroyed; this was our Katrina. If there’s any year to support these young ladies, it’s now,” said Toups. “Most of them don’t have a place to go to or the resources they need.”
“Since year one, I’ve always made sure that Gumbo House hosts a Christmas open house as a fundraiser for a beneficiary,” said Toups. “After a lot of experimentation, I narrowed it down adopting single mothers who are preparing to have their first child, so that’s what I’ve been doing over the last 18 years.”
Toups hosted the annual holiday open house alongside friends Lisa and Craig Hebert at the Hebert Residence, distributing pajamas, t-shirts, long sleeve and short sleeve onesies, pocketed shirts, shorts, blue jeans, camo pants, khakis, and leggings. Toups said without the help of his friends, the annual open house wouldn’t be possible.
“I can say I’m proud of myself and my friends. We’ve been able to help so many moms over the last 18 years,” Toups added. “My friends Lisa and Craig have offered their place for years. This year I took them up on their offer and they co-hosted the event with me at their place.”
Toups founded Gumbo House in May 1994 as a fun way to enjoy Cajun-Style dinner parties in Washington, D.C. When asked what inspired the establishment of the boutique catering service, the gumbo guru said it was his longing for the delicious South Louisiana dishes he grew up eating.
“When I was living in DC, obviously I was missing home, and there was nothing that I felt could connect me. To fill the void, I decided to cook the food that I was so used to. I immediately started calling home, getting my mom and dad to give me recipes over the phone.” Toups added. “That is when I realized I had a knack for cooking, and living alone in DC, I couldn’t eat an entire pot of jambalaya or gumbo by myself, so I’d call up a few friends, ask who’s hungry, and they’d come over to my condo, and they loved it.”
Since 2003, Gumbo House’s mission has been to provide a helping hand and give back to women in the community. Toups says with the help of his friends, he’s been blessed to adopt about 1200 single mothers, providing clothing essentials to children newborn to three years old. Toups said it’s been a blessing to help so many women and children over the last 18 years, and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“28 years ago, I made it a priority because I was raised that way. We’re all blessed and have an obligation to give back. Over the last 18 years, it’s been about providing a helping hand to single moms and I’m very proud of that,” Toups said.
For more information on the Holiday Gumbo Open House or how to donate to the Hope Restored Pregnancy Resource Center, please contact Philip Toups at (985) 226-6459, or visit Hope Restored Resource Center Facebook.