Syracuse, NY — Jeremy Dufresne — a mentally ill homeless man who suffers from schizophrenia — was in a Dunkin’ Donuts last week charging his phone so he could call his mom to tell her good night. While sitting there, harming no one, two employees filled a pitcher with cold water and dumped it on his head. One dumped the water while the other filmed it. The video went viral and and the internet reacted with outrage.
As the video shows, Dufresne has his head on the table as the two employees sneak up behind him and then pour the water out. Dufresne immediately jumps up and looks back at the two bullies laughing at him.
“How many times I’ve got to tell you to stop sleeping in here?” the employee tells Dufresne in the video as the pair laughs. “You’re here all day.”
The video was uploaded to Facebook and subsequently went viral, receiving over 4.5 million views.
After the video went viral, the owner of the Dunkin’ Donuts responded by firing the two employees as they should have and then issued an apology. On Monday, Dunkin’ franchisee Kimberly Wolak issued a statement condemning the employees who did it:
“Dunkin’ has been a part of the Syracuse community for many years, and as the franchisees who own and operate the North Salina Street location, we were extremely disturbed by the behavior of our employees captured in the video.
“It not only violated our written policies, but goes against our core values as an organization―which include creating a welcoming and hospitable environment and treating everyone with dignity and respect. The employees involved in the incident have been terminated, and we will be contacting the individual in the video to apologize for the negative experience.
“We also intend to work with local advocates to make sure that our employees are better educated as to how to engage with homeless individuals and where to direct them in the community for appropriate assistance.”
But this was only the beginning of the story that would actually turn out to have a happy ending. Dufresne would later be interviewed by Syracuse.com and show the world what kind of person he is.
“He probably had some personal problems of his own and needed someone to talk to,” Dufresne said of the worker. “And he took it out on someone else, like me.”
In response to the video and Dufresne’s ability to empathize with the men who bullied him, the internet raised him over $18,000. Dufresne, who is schizophrenic and sleeps outside most nights, is now reportedly reuniting with his family who says they plan to use the money to help him get back on his feet.
Samuel Breazeale, who uploaded the video to Facebook—explaining that he did not take it—was the person behind the GoFundMe account. He was merely attempting to raise $150 just to get him a “new set of clothes and a meal and phone charger” because the water ruined Dufresne’s. This goal has been far surpassed now, however, and he’ll be able to get much more than just a phone charger.
In a world that often times seems full of hate and chaos, stories like Jeremy Dufresne’s serve to restore faith in humanity and show us that despite all the differences the mainstream media uses to divide us, most of us are kind people who want to do good in this world.
If you’d like to donate to Dufresne, you can do so at this GoFundMe link.