Chubbfathers helping with hurricane relief project that will also benefit Alabaster church

Published 1:51 pm Thursday, September 2, 2021

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By SCOTT MIMS | Special to the Reporter

GONZALES, La. — When hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast, most people head in the opposite direction, but Chubbfathers owner William Cholewinski heads straight for the disaster area.

In recent years, Cholewinski has been heading to Louisiana in the wake of major storms to assist those affected. Living by his restaurant’s slogan, “Feed the People” and the short saying printed on the staff’s T-shirts, “Love Everybody,” it’s a mission he takes to heart—however, starting in 2020, his strategy changed.

In the wake of Hurricane Ida, Cholewinski headed down to Gonzales, Louisiana to work with Cat5 Resources, which contracts with major wireless companies like Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile. The company pays him to feed the crews working on cell towers in the area.

“When natural disasters happen of all sorts, they go out and deploy generators to make sure cell phone towers stay operational,” Cholewinski said. “You may not have power, may not have water, but being able to communicate to your loved ones that you’re all right is obviously a big, big deal.”

Cholewinski made it clear that this agreement is a for-profit venture, but there is a reason why he helps out in this way instead of donating directly to storm victims—it is a guaranteed project, whereas otherwise he might drive six hours and have to turn around, with tons of food in tow.

“We used to go straight to the place and feed people who are displaced or need food to eat, but now there’s so much red tape that you have to jump through just to go,” he said, explaining that to work in certain areas, one typically needs emergency access permits or a special license, and on top of that you must find a host.

“Thankfully, a lot of organizations such as church groups are volunteering. The fact that there are so many groups now is a wonderful thing,” Cholewinski said. “Our mission is still the same. We’re just assisting in a different manner.”

Cholewinski said the job pays well and gives him the ability to put money back into communities affected by the hurricane as well as the Alabaster community. When the project is over, he will look for a church or organization in Louisiana and make a sizable donation to the relief efforts there. In addition, he will get to help an Alabaster church that is in need.

Freewill Ministries, a small church in Alabaster, also stands to benefit from the proceeds. Cholewinski plans to help the church move an old building next door to the growing congregation.

“I plan on using a big chunk of what we make on this job to try to help them get that building removed,” he said. “He (Pastor Larry Coleman) and his wife are amazing, and their church is amazing. I love their passion, I love their spirit and I love their heart.”

In addition, Freewill Ministries is one of three organizations that will send a group of volunteers to work in one of Cholewinski’s three concession stands that will operate out of Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa during Alabama football games this year. In return, Cholewinski will give them $5,000 per game, which adds up to $35,000 over a seven-game period.

Cholewinski thanked his nephew, Caleb Kelley, for accompanying him on the trip and also thanked his restaurant staff and supporters back in Shelby County.

“This would not be possible if we did not receive so much incredible support from the communities we support. I have the best team ever,” he said.