(WSVN) - Help is on the way for a group of seniors who lost thousands of dollars when their trip to Alaska was cancelled. After waiting two years with no answers, a local business now has a gift for them this holiday season. 7’s Kevin Ozebek has an update to our special assignment report, “Out in the Cold.”
This Miami restaurant serves up a menu that keeps customers coming back for more.
Kevin Ozebek: “How’s the food?”
Batuka Williams: “Oh, good. Awesome!”
Eric Van Dyke, co-owner, iKrave: “I would say it’s a mixture of everything. You got soul food, you got a mixture of Spanish how we wanna do it. It’s a mixture of everything.”
The owners of iKrave restaurant, Eric and Sheena Van Dyke, decided to open on a day they’re usually closed, for some very important guests.
Sheena Van Dyke (greeting guests): “How you doing?”
They are welcoming members of a group called Seniors on the Move. Before the pandemic, they would meet at Charles Hadley Park in Miami.
When the 7News team met the seniors earlier this year, they were frustrated with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Katherine Ellis: “Give us our money back. We deserve — we’ve worked hard all our lives.”
In 2018, they each paid thousands of dollars for an Alaskan cruise. The money was collected by Charles Hadley Park director and trip organizer, Antavius Howell.
When the trip was cancelled, some received partial refunds, but others got nothing.
Charlean Cobb: “We’ve been waiting two years to get the money.”
And they’re still waiting.
When Howell died unexpectedly in June, the seniors reached out to 7News for help. They grew angry at the lack of answers from the city … and lack of a refund.
Charlean Cobb: “Shame on you! Two to three thousand dollars. That’s a lot of money for no one to say anything.”
When our report aired in November, Eric and Sheena were watching.
Sheena Van Dyke, co-owner, iKrave: “To lose that type of money in this pandemic is truly, truly heartbreaking, so, if we can help them in some aspect to getting some of their money back, that’s what we’re here to do.”
The Van Dykes gave the seniors a free meal here at their restaurant, but they wanted to do even more.
Sheena Van Dyke: “When we seen your story, my husband, the first thing he said was, ‘We have to do something,’ and when he say that, guess what we’re gonna do? We’re gonna do something! We do want to give each and every one of you $500 for what you all went through.”
Five hundred dollars to help each of the seniors through the holiday season.
Charlean Cobb: “I’m so overwhelmed. I mean, this is beautiful.”
Batuka Williams: “There are good people in the world, and for them to see this and stand up and do something for us, I mean, that ain’t nothing but God in them.”
Around the same time 7News started investigating the seniors’ story, the Miami Police Department’s public corruption task force also started an investigation. The case is still open.
But the seniors are not hopeful Parks and Rec will give them their money back.
Katherine Ellis: “The city needs to do better as far as the seniors are concerned. Have an open heart. Look at the situation.”
However, they are extremely thankful for Eric and Sheena’s kindness.
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