Ishmael Mohammed Jr., better known as “The Wendy’s Guy” or Junior, was moved into short-term housing last week after a UT alumnus led a drive that raised $30,000 earlier this month to help get Mohammed off the streets.
Mohammed worked at Wendy’s in the Union Building for more than 13 years, where he broke the world record for the most sales at a fast food restaurant in 30 minutes. Mohammed left the company in 2012.
UT alumnus Benjamin McPhaul started the fundraiser on Feb. 6 after he saw Mohammed asking for money outside the Cactus Cafe. McPhaul said the money is now being managed by Family Eldercare — an organization that serves seniors and adults with disabilities — to find Mohammed permanent housing and give him permanent residence documentation. McPhaul said Mohammed’s green card was stolen, which made it difficult to move him into permanent housing, but Mohammed is currently in short-term housing.
Becca McPherson, director of development at Family Eldercare, said the organization could neither confirm nor deny if it was handling Mohammed’s situation.
Family Eldercare manages several low-income housing properties around Austin and a 52-unit complex for low-income seniors. McPherson said clients who are eligible for the organization’s money management services must be low-income, elderly or adults with disabilities that prevent them from managing their own money.
“If there was a situation where somebody raised money to help enhance someone else’s life and they fell under the guidelines, we could serve that client,” McPherson said.
According to McPherson, the organization also works with clients who have lost proper documentation, especially homeless individuals.
“If they lost [their documentation], we can assist clients in helping them regain what they need,” McPherson said.
When Mohammed spoke to The Daily Texan, he mentioned alcohol several times. McPhaul said he was not sure whether Family Eldercare was providing professional help for Mohammed’s mental health or whether Mohammed was an alcoholic.
“I think maybe he does drink and likes to drink, but I’ve had numerous interactions with him on a daily basis where he’s not drunk at all,” McPhaul said. “I don’t know if that’s something that is being blown out of proportion or if he is actually an alcoholic.”
According to McPhaul, he will still stay in touch with Mohammed but will not be involved as regularly as he has been with the situation. McPhaul said Mohammed, who is 58 years old, will be eligible for early retirement at 62, and Family Eldercare will make the donated money last as long as possible until Mohammed can set aside enough to retire.
“I’m just hoping he gets back on his feet and gets a place to live and a job,” McPhaul said. “That’s pretty much all I really care about.”