This holiday season, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio business owner and philanthropist Joel Testa and his wife, Mary, want others to know that homelessness can happen to anyone. Even you.
To that end, Testa, COO and co-owner of of Testa Builders along with Paul Testa, and co-owner of a four star dinner restaurant, Joel Testa decided to forgo accepting gifts from friends and family this year for his forty-second birthday. Instead, Testa said, he wanted help to feed and clothe fifty local homeless people to bring attention to their plight.
“Generally, people are afraid of the homeless,” stated Testa. “The homeless are not lepers.”
The Testas carried most of the expense for the event out of their own pockets, accepting donations from a local grocery store, Acme Fresh Market, in the form of gift cards to defray some of the expenses.
Diners were treated to spinach quiche salad, potato leek soup, braised beef short ribs and a chocolate mousse dessert, and offered seconds as well. Additionally they were offered thirds in to-go boxes. The Akron area has approximately 800 homeless, which is almost double the number of beds available in local shelters. Most of the people Testa fed for the holiday are sleeping outside in makeshift tents and parking decks.