When Sarah Cummins called off her wedding a week before her July 15 ceremony, she was left with a nonrefundable contract for a 170-plate dinner. Though there wasn’t going to be a wedding, she realized it wasn’t too late to throw a party.
After contacting local shelters, 25-year-old Cummins welcomed dozens of homeless to feast on a meal consisting of bourbon meatballs, salmon, goat cheese, roasted garlic bruschetta and cake. The soirée was held Saturday at the Ritz Charles event center in Carmel, Indiana, and Cummins was there to welcome her guests on the day that was supposed to be her wedding.
Cummins, a Purdue University pharmacy student, saved up $30,000 over two years for her dream wedding, only to cancel it for “undisclosed reasons” just a week before the big day. But Cummins was on the hook for the bill along with her former fiancé, Logan Araujo.
“I called everyone, canceled, apologized, cried, called vendors, cried some more and then I started feeling really sick about just throwing away all the food I ordered for the reception,” she told IndyStar.
That’s when she decided that, rather than letting the food and location go to waste, she would scratch her original guest list and devote the day to feeding the homeless (her ex-fiancé, Araujo, was on board with the idea). But the party wouldn’t be the only charitable act to happen that day. As word spread about the event, dresses and suits were donated so that the guests would be able to dress for the occasion as well.
“She took a time of her life where she was really sad and kind of lost, and turned it into such a teachable moment for people who are less fortunate,” 35-year-old Erik Jenfen tells PEOPLE. Jenfen has been homeless for five months and is currently at Wheeler Mission, one of the shelters whose clients were in attendance. “It was an opportunity for us to keep our eyes and our heads up. To realize that there is still an opportunity for us, that life does exist and revolve outside of homelessness and where we are in life right now.”
According to Jenfen, being able to put a suit back on gave him a boost of confidence, and being able to share it with others in similar situations was an opportunity he won’t soon forget. “Homelessness is something people would rather sweep under the rug and not pay attention to, it’s just wonderful when someone thinks about us.”
“We all gave Sarah a hug as we were about to leave,” Jenfen explains. “We had seen tears in her eyes and we wanted to share the love with her that she shared with us first.”
After hosting the event, Cummins reportedly left on her honeymoon to the Dominican Republic. Araujo transferred his ticket, and Cummins took her mother instead.