Hopelessness is like a disease. If you never feel like your life is going to get better, it can cause you to be trapped in a cycle of depression and self-destruction.
Sometimes, though, all it takes to break that cycle is just a bit of reaffirmation that the world is still good and cares about you.
When Stanley Long was begging for money outside of a restaurant in Houston, TX, he was trapped in such a cycle. But when a stranger showed him the smallest amount of human decency, it changed his life and gave him the hope he needed to turn his life around.
Stanley Long’s recent life has been tough.
Several years ago, Long’s mother became ill and required constant attention. Long could not afford a live-in nurse and so he had no choice but to quit his job to take care of her. It was a difficult time, and it was made much worse when she died.
After, he was left with nothing. He had no job to support himself, and he was forced onto the street. The loss of his mother crushed him, and the lack of money or a future only added to it.
But his luck was about to turn around.
Long took to begging for money to survive.
“Help out a homeless guy today, ma’am,” Long asked drivers at a nearby restaurant in a video by USA Today.
That was his reality every day. Nothing changed, until, in May of 2015, he had a chance encounter with Alex Camarillo.
Camarillo was walking into a restaurant when Long asked him for money. Camarillo refused.
Instead, Camarillo took Long inside and bought him some food. But he was not done yet.
After, Camarillo then went to a local sporting goods store and bought Long an entire wardrobe.
“Clothes from head to toe,” Long said in an interview with USA Today.
Camarillo recognized Long’s suffering because he had also felt the same pain as a child.
When asked why he went out of his way for someone he did not even know, Camarillo had a simple answer.
“I grew up broke,” Camarillo said in an interview with USA Today. “I grew up in poverty.”
He saw Long’s suffering and immediately recognized it as something he experienced himself. This was something that Camarillo could not ignore. It was his hope that by doing a good deed, he could help Long see that there was still hope for him.
Long was incredibly grateful. But more than that, it gave him the drive to turn his life around. The two also became fast friends and continued to meet for lunch thereafter.
Needless to say, Camarillo’s act of kindness went viral and the internet rallied behind his message: that we all can make a difference, little-by-little.