This holiday season, the homeless of Montreal have a place to go if they need a meal. The owner of Amir restaurant at Place Versailles shopping centre, Raji Abi-Rached, is doing his part to help the community and make his city a more welcoming place.
Abi-Rached’s restaurant, which he bought five years ago, is across from the Radisson Metro station, where some homeless people gather. Now as winter is upon us, these people are at risk for a warm place and a warm plate of food. Abi-Rached is coming forward to help out. In an interview with CBC, he said that he often gives out free meals to homeless people in the area, and even more so when it gets cold outside. “Every time they pass here, we call them; we give them food, or they come, they ask us. It’s just a small gesture, but it can help a lot, and I think it makes a big difference for other people.”
While Abi-Rached’s staff is used to giving out a meal to those in need, he decided to take the gesture further, by spreading the word online. His hope was that others would be encouraged to do the same. “I wanted to influence people to do the same. I wanted this to be contagious.“ And it worked: over the weekend, Abi-Rached’s tweet was widely shared, and his name was trending through the city. The word spread quickly in his neighbourhood — among paying customers, too. One customer, Nathalie Viel said, “I think it’s a great idea, and if it can inspire other people, that would be even better.” Abi-Rached said, “I am so surprised that everybody was retweeting; everyone was pushing for it.”
For a small restaurant owner like Abi-Rached, this show of generosity is a good sign. He hopes the goodwill can extend beyond Christmas and into the new year. “Quebecers here are very generous people. They always give back. They always want to give back. This is a way to help change the world and make it a better place.”