Give a homeless man spare change, and you’ll feed him for a day. Give him a job at a pizza chain, and you just might change his life forever.
Rishi Sharma, a Domino’s pizza franchise owner, was on his way to work in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, one morning when he passed a man begging for change.
The man, who Sharma later learned was named Brian "Sooty" Wallace, had used a Domino’s Pizza box to create a sign.
At the sight of his brand’s logo in the man’s hands, Sharma paused.
“I saw the pizza box of my brand and so I parked my car and approached this amazing guy Sooty and I just said, ‘Hi mate how are you doing?’ and I wanted to see what was written on the box on the other side.”
The sign read: “Any spare change. God bless.”
“As soon as I spoke to him, the manners were very nice,” Sharma said. “It was just a great conversation, he was very humble, and I just made up my mind I just have to give this guy an opportunity.”
Sharma noticed that Wallace was shivering. He offered a cup of coffee, and then they had a nice conversation.
“We had a coffee and I said did you have something to eat and he said, ‘Nothing today’ … can I make a pizza for you? I have a Domino's store.”
Not one to turn down free pizza, Wallace readily agreed.
“I invited him to the store, ‘What pizza would you like to have?’ He asked for a ham and cheese and I said, 'Mate can I make you a meat lovers?’ And he said, ‘No I like ham and cheese it’s my favorite,’” said Sharma.
Popping the pizza into the oven, Sharma continued chatting with Wallace, and soon learned that he was homeless.
It was then that Sharma decided to offer him a job.
“I read somewhere the world is full of nice people,” Sharma said. “If you can’t find one, be one … I said, ‘Sooty would you like to work for me?’ And he said, ‘Yep.’”
“When it comes to generosity, they don’t come any more community-minded than New Zealand multi-unit franchisee, Rishi,” Meij wrote. “After hearing his story about losing his job as a result of COVID-19, Rishi hired him on the spot! Welcome to the Domino’s family, Sooty!”
Now, after more than a month, Sharma says Wallace has acclimated well: “The journey is great, he’s very happy learning a lot of new things.”
Already, Wallace has started to get his life back on track. He has a steady income, a place to stay, and is happy in his new role.
“He is very happy,” Sharma said. “He has a house in Taita now and work and income has been very amazing. I spoke to them last Monday and a lot of things have been sorted.”
He added that he’s enjoyed having Wallace help out in his three Hutt Valley locations.
“I’m just looking forward to going back and working with him,” he said.