IHOP owner donates to Delaware Veterans Trust Fund

From left, Mashoor Awad, franchise owner of six IHOPs and one Pie Five donated $5,000 to the Delaware Veterans Trust Fund Wednesday. Friends of Delaware Veterans President Dave Skocik and Vice President Paul Davis accepted the check on the fund’s behalf. (Delaware State News/Ashton Brown)

From left, Mashoor Awad, franchise owner of six IHOPs and one Pie Five donated $5,000 to the Delaware Veterans Trust Fund Wednesday. Friends of Delaware Veterans President Dave Skocik and Vice President Paul Davis accepted the check on the fund’s behalf. (Delaware State News/Ashton Brown)

DOVER — Local entrepreneur Mashoor Awad donated $5,000 to the Delaware Veterans Trust Fund Wednesday to support Delaware’s veterans who find themselves in dire straits.

The nonprofit trust fund was signed into law on Sept. 17, 2013, by Gov. Jack Markell and is fully volunteer-operated under the auspices of the Commission of Veterans Affairs.

Mr. Awad, a Jordanian-American Muslim said he wanted to not only use his donation to support area veterans in need but to shine a light on the contributions Muslim Americans make to society.

“Muslims are part of the fabric of America,” Mr. Awad said at his Dover IHOP mid-way through his 16-hour Ramadan fast. “I don’t think Muslims are often portrayed as people who can and do make a positive impact on our nation.”

Mr. Awad moved from Jordan to North Carolina in 1986 at the age of 17 to attend a technical college.

“It’s every kid’s dream — to go to school in America,” he said. “So I came here, knowing the basic English I had learned in school to pursue an education.”

But he soon found interest outside the tech field while working at Subway and attending school.

“I realized I liked being in customer service and dealing with people,” Mr. Awad said. “I can talk to anyone about anything.”

In the early 1990s, Mr. Awad went into business with a partner to buy a Subway franchise of their own outside Raleigh, North Carolina.

“Subways were cheap back then, I only had to put down $7,000 to get started,” he said.

But in 1995 an opportunity opened in Dover to start his own Subway franchise so Mr. Awad moved his wife and infant son north to open his first location at the intersection of Del. 8 and Saulsbury Road.

“I borrowed money from just about every family member I have to get started and things were tight at first,” he said. “We were living in an apartment, I was at the restaurant from open until close and we only had one car so my wife drove me to and from work, stopping by between lunch and dinner so I could have some time with my son.”

In the years since, Mr. Awad has expanded his business ventures, now operating six IHOPs and one Pie Five. He now has more than 350 employees and became a board member of the Delaware Restaurant Association three years ago.

“I know what it’s like to be in the position of some of these veterans — doing everything you can just to make ends meet,” Mr. Awad said.

He first learned about veterans issues soon after his move from North Carolina because his landlord of the Del. 8 property was Paul Davis, president of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 850 and vice president of the Friends of Delaware Veterans — the primary fundraising organization for the Trust Fund.

“When Paul told me about the fund I wanted to help. In my opinion, our veterans don’t get the treatment they deserve,” Mr. Awad said. “You always hear on the news the lack of services available to them, troubles with the (Veterans Affairs) and we really don’t show enough appreciation for these people who risk their lives for us.”

“I was happy he decided to make this donation,” Mr. Davis said. “Mr. Awad is the perfect example of someone coming to America and working hard to become successful. It’s always good to see anyone, especially immigrants, show their support for our veterans.”

The Veterans Trust Fund is available to help vets in emergency situations where it’s impossible to make ends meet.

“We are able to help people who are in a bind and about to be evicted, have their utilities shut off or have their car repossessed,” said Dave Skocik, president of the Friends of Delaware Veterans. “It’s a one-time deal and it has to be a true emergency.”

The veteran in need is required to bring in copy of his or her bank statement, the bills owed and proper documentation to prove military service.

Mr. Skocik said that although the fund is available, many veterans feel alone in their circumstances and are ashamed to ask for help so the Friends of Delaware Veterans are working on public awareness, especially through local veterans organizations.

“Every donation we get is a godsend. And we operate with zero overhead so those who donate can be assured that 100 percent of what they donate goes into the fund, not toward paying employees or anything like that,” Mr. Skocik said. “All donations are tax deductible and go straight to the veterans.”

The Veterans Trust Fund is looking for more individuals or businesses to donate not only to the fund but to allow it to host a fundraiser this fall. The third annual fundraiser is scheduled for Nov. 4 at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.

To donate or learn more about the Delaware Veterans Trust Fund, call (302) 739-2792 or visit delawareveteranstrustfund.com.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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