When the temperature in Chicago was expected to drop to -20 degrees Fahrenheit in early 2019, Candice Payne, managing broker at 5th Group Realty & Management, thought about the city's homeless residents and suggested to her husband that they pay for 20 hotel rooms for one night. He agreed.
Payne turned to Instagram for help transporting people to the hotel. She received offers of assistance from fellow brokers, Chicago residents and people around the world and was able to pay for 60 hotel rooms for four nights and three meals per day for each person. Volunteers and sponsors provided clothing and other necessities for men, women and children with special needs.
Payne's act of kindness caught the attention of the media, but she avoided the spotlight initially, coming forward only after people speculated that someone wealthy or famous was responsible. "I think it's important to know that I'm a regular person who just wanted to help. It came as a surprise to people that it was a working black woman who began this," Payne said, according to chicagorealtor.com. She wanted the public to know that most of those who were helped had fallen on hard times and weren't looking for a handout.
The story was featured on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," and Payne received $50,000 that she said she hoped to use to start a nonprofit. She wants to buy and flip houses to provide shelter for those in need and work with other entrepreneurs to get them jobs.