Joel Testa, a developer and co-owner of a four-star Akron restaurant, asked his family and friends to raise money for the homeless instead of giving him gifts for his forty-second birthday.
“Generally, people are afraid of the homeless,” Testa told the Akron Beacon Journal. “The homeless are not lepers. Homelessness can happen to anyone.”
Testa told reporters that he used the donations he received for his birthday to offset the cost of the dinner, which included spinach quiche salad, potato leek soup, braised beef short ribs and a chocolate mousse desert. According to the Journal, diners were offered seconds and takeout bags with leftovers.
In addition to the dinner, Testa's daughter and her scout troop knitted scarves and handed them out.
There are an estimated 800 homeless people in Akron, outnumbering the available shelter beds by nearly two to one, something Testa is also trying to address. He appears to be developing a 60-unit apartment building exclusively reserved for veterans, homeless, and disabled people.