A Florida man said he was moved by a homeless woman who never asked him for money—despite him passing by her on his way to work each day.
The woman eventually introduced herself to Greg Smith as “Amy Jo” and greeted him politely instead of asking him for cash in downtown Orlando. He ate lunch with her.
“For 30 min to an hour I get to hear how positive she is even though she really has nothing,” he wrote on a GoFundMe page he started.
When he met her again, the woman “dropped a bomb on me.”
“She cannot read. Amy Jo does not smoke, drink, have a drug addiction, or anything to that nature,” he said. “She simply just has never had anyone teach her how to read.
“She began to tell me any money that she can collect she uses to check out library books that help with learning to read instead of buying FOOD,” Smith added. “So now not only do Amy Jo and I sit and have lunch, I’m teaching her to read. I rent one library book a week and we read it together Tuesday and she practices on her own throughout the rest of the week.”
Smith then told ABC News that Amy Jo was happy with their weekly reading routine. “She lit up! I could see in her face that she felt amazing,” he said.
Smith said he is sharing his story with others to encourage people to be compassionate to others.
Smith started a GoFundMe to help her out. “I want to be able to help anybody, whether it be giving them some food or clothes,” Smith said. “I don’t want to just narrow it down to helping people read because there’s so many other people that need more help.” As of this week, more than $9,100 has been raised for her.
In 2013, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy said that 32 million adults in the United States cannot read, which is 14 percent of the population.
About 21 percent of American adults can’t read above the 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read.
The U.S. National Assessment of Adult Literacy completed its last survey in 2003, saying that about 14 percent of Americans had a “below basic” literacy level. About 29 percent had a “basic” reading level, the survey found. It also said that 11 million adults in the United States are “nonliterate in English.”