AKRON, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio developer has treated 50 homeless men and women to a four-course fine-dining experience.
Joel Testa decided that instead of presents for his 42nd birthday, he wanted his friends and family to donate money to help feed and clothe Akron's homeless population.
Then he decided to treat 50 homeless people to a gourmet dinner on Sunday in the four-star Akron restaurant that he co-owns.
Diners were treated to spinach quiche salad, potato leek soup, braised beef short ribs and a chocolate mousse desert. They were then offered seconds and handed takeout bags with leftovers as they left, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.
As part of their evening, Testa's daughter's Girl Scout troop made the group scarves, and the city of Akron provided free trolley service to shuttle them to the restaurant, called d.b.a.
Testa said he wants to change the perception people have of the homeless.
"Generally, people are afraid of the homeless," he said. "The homeless are not lepers. Homelessness can happen to anyone."
An estimated 800 people living in Akron are homeless, according to Community Support Services, which serves the mentally ill in Summit Count.
Keith Stahl, director of residential services at the agency, said that people need to feel they deserve to walk into a fine restaurant and be served.
Self-worth is the first step in breaking the grip of homelessness, he said.
"A lot of the guys lose hope that life can get better for them," Stahl said. "It's such a wonderful thing for them to do."
Information from: Akron Beacon Journal, www.ohio.com
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.