Chattanooga business hires homeless man, rescues him from cold

One man is out of the bitter cold, thanks to gracious Chattanooga business owners.

One man is out of the bitter cold, thanks to gracious Chattanooga business owners.

Just days ago, Ronnie Karm was homeless.

He had been for about a year after a tough decision to split from his family and leave them with everything he had.

"It doesn't take being on drugs or alcohol to be at an all-time low," he said. "There's a couple of times you wake up in the dark and you're like 'OK where am I now?'"

Last week, he walked into Baxter's Family Restaurant on Hixson Pike trying to warm up.

"I said how much would it be to get a cup of coffee?" he said.

What happened next is what he still can't believe.

The restaurant's owner Matthew Wolcott booked him a room at a nearby hotel and before sending him there in an Uber with a hot meal, made him a deal.

"I didn't want this man to stay outside," Matthew Wolcott said. "I was like if you are looking for work, I will hire you tomorrow, but you've got to show me you'll show up."

Karm did show up, 30 minutes early, and was eager to prove he could get back on his feet.

"He's one of the employees you just have to keep giving him stuff to do until he learns it because he gets done and says 'OK what's next now? What now?'" Wolcott said.

Karm connected with some old friends here in Chattanooga and is now staying with them.

He says after what's happened in the last week, he may stick around longer than originally planned.

"I don't have it in me to look at it as a coincidence that something's going on that this is meant to be and supposed to be happening," he said. "When you hit those low points those people that are there, it's hard to forget them."

The owner of Baxter's says he's noticed more homeless people in the Lakesite, Soddy Daisy area since the gentrification of downtown Chattanooga began.

For that reason, his restaurant collects blankets and sleeping bags in exchange for a dinner discount.

Customers can get a $5 discount on their bills for donating blankets and a $7 discount for sleeping bags.

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