Note: we are republishing this story to highlight the importance of random acts of kindness and the positive impact they can have on people's lives.
A waitress from the Valley was walking to her car one day when she noticed a man in need. He was homeless and was lurking outside of the Hooters restaurant where she works. Instead of shoving him aside and ignoring him like most people probably would do, the woman, Melissa Pena, decided to do something surprising and later shared a social media update about it that has since gone viral.
Pena was stepping out of the restaurant into the parking lot when she noticed the homeless man sitting on the curb who clearly needed a helping hand. That’s when Pena made the decision to step over and do what she could to help lift the man up and out of his poverty.
Before she was going to be able to make a positive impact on his life, Pena learned his name, which was Rick. Then Rick told her something that devastated her. He had been hit by a car a few weeks ago, and the driver had left him without any word. It was a hit and run, which really made Rick feel worthless. The person hadn’t cared enough to slow down and check if he was okay, let alone alive.
He told her that he was hungry, so she decided to help him out. With the types of connections she had at the restaurant, it wasn’t too hard for Pena to convince the staff in the kitchen to hook Rick up with some chow.
Rick ordered a burger, buffalo shrimp, and a glass of milk. When the bill came, Pena paid Rick’s $30 tab, without an ounce of hesitation. She had only been on the clock for a short time that day, and the $30 proved to be more than she made. Nevertheless, the big-hearted waitress did not bat an eye and supported Rick in his time of need.
Because Rick had been touched by Pena’s compassion for him, he did what he could. He gave the young woman a necklace that contained a Bible verse. It was his way to thank her for the hospitality and the warm meal.
Pena had not expected anything from Rick. She just wanted to do the man a good deed. But when he gave her that necklace, it moved her so much that she snapped a photo with him and shared her story on Facebook.
“It was such a simple, easy thing,” Pena wrote. “I could do it 10 times over again. I feel like he has no idea all this is going on right now, and I just want to share it with him so bad because there are so many people that want to help him.”
And it was true. Once Rick’s story got out to the public, people did come forward to open their hearts generously to him.
Eventually, Rick’s family in Ohio contacted Pena telling her that Rick had become homeless ten years before and lost contact with them. They wanted so badly to reconnect with him. It’s unclear if he’s seen his family since the viral post.
Since the post went viral, Pena did have a chat with Rick, and he is doing okay. She was glad to help.