When 16-year-old Charlotte Howard went to get on the bus in Hastings, England, she spotted a note posted to the side of the bus stop.
It had been left by 37-year-old Anthony Johnson, who had been living on the streets for the last nine years. On it, he was begging for work, not money—and the determination Howard sensed in the note gave her the inspiration to make a huge difference in his life.
“I will do a trial for free to show how I work. I don’t take drugs or drink. I will also do dog walking/minding, window cleaning, shopping, gardening, car valeting/washing, housework, cooking. Anything to earn a living and make life seem worth living,” the note read.
Howard took a photo of the note and shared it on social media, creating a GoFundMe account to raise money for a caravan trailer for Johnson. All she initially asked for was 300 pounds (US$393), hoping to raise enough to purchase the caravan and do a little work on it.
Before she knew it, she had raised that 10 times over. In just three weeks, the fundraiser had picked up 2,466 pounds (US$3,232)—and a local landscaper named Nelson Smith had noticed the post and pitched in with a job offer as well.
Smith, who admitted to the Hastings and St. Leonards Observer that he’d had mental health problems of his own in recent years, was inspired by the determination he saw in the note from Johnson. He knew that it took a lot to overcome difficult circumstances, and was convinced that Johnson had the willpower to change his situation; the two have worked out an arrangement that will give Johnson handyman work for Smith.
For Johnson, though, the entire situation is proof that it is possible to turn around even the most dire of life circumstances. He told the Hastings and St. Leonards Observer that this was a complete turnaround in mentality after once breaking into a car just for the prospect of a warm bed in prison.
“I didn’t want to do the things I used to do. My social circles used to be drug takers and criminals. Now it’s pastors and people doing outreach work,” he said. “Getting a job is about having something to do rather than rotting away on a bench. It’s about having something in your life and at the moment that seems to be coming back.”
The story is a wonderful reminder of how powerful an open-minded individual can be, but it also preaches understanding for those in difficult circumstances. The fact that Johnson had been so desperate for a warm bed that he’d committed a crime to get one in jail serves as harsh evidence that there is more we can do to give the homeless a second chance at work and security.
Luckily for Johnson, someone saw his determination to succeed and knew that it wouldn’t cost them anything to help him out. Now, one less person is living on the streets—wouldn’t it be great to see a lot more heartwarming stories like this in our world?