TORONTO – Thanks to the cooperation of a group of activists and volunteers, 16 homeless people in Toronto spend New Year’s Eve in warm hotel rooms after a Muslim businessman covered the entire bill.
“I’m very proud of my team,” Paramount Fine Foods CEO Mohamad Fakih told The Star.
“They stood up and said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it. Midnight, overnight, it doesn’t matter.’ ”
Fakih was recalling last Sunday night when he received a call from a friend telling him that Jennifer Evans needed help, he told the Star Monday.
Evans, the driving force behind the project, is the CEO of SqueezeCMM and B2B News Network.
Due to a miscommunication about the availability of Toronto homeless shelters this weekend, a shelter intake center on Peter Street was going to turn people out.
“The volunteers had to go home and they had no place to send people,” Evans told the Star.
Evans offered to man the desk and keep the center open, or to pay for hotel rooms for those without a place to stay. As of Sunday night, 16 vulnerable people needed rooms. This is when Fakih stepped in.
“The whole thing crashed down on her head, the poor thing, around 4 or 5 in the afternoon,” Fakih said.
Though some hotels asked as much as $300 or $400 per night, some were declining when they heard what the situation was. But rooms were eventually found for all 16 people.
As well as paying the bill for 16 people, Fakih’s Paramount team brought deliveries of food to their hotels, and medication was sent where it was needed.
“Jennifer did the hardest work,” Fakih told the Star.
“There are a lot of good people involved. It’s not just about who pays the money. It’s about the intention behind what everyone can do, and get it done.”