Jonathan Pengelly had a late night out and—craving fast food—found himself in the dreaded McDonald’s queue. But his wait took an unexpected turn when he saw an old woman, hunched and with graying hair, asking a staff member for a cup of hot water.
It caught Pengelly’s attention, because the staff member said no and then just dismissed her. Then he realized she was homeless, and “my heart was shattered!”
Feeling awful witnessing how she was treated, he told her to order whatever she wanted, on him. In her position, Pengelly would have ordered everything. That’s not what the woman did; she asked for a single cheeseburger, but he wanted to give her more.
He invited her to sit with him and then he learned her story—her name was Polly and she was “so full of life and enthusiasm,” and so educated, he shared on Facebook.
“I sat with her, on the cold hard floor, and you know what I did? I cried my eyes out,” Pengelly wrote.
“You know if people of Cardiff walked past them and didn’t do anything because, financially, they weren’t in the position, I would understand. But people walked past and laughed at them.”
Polly had a friend with her, and Pengelly invited both of them back to his house where they cooked up enough food that they could take away and share with friends for a few days, and shower and brush their teeth.
“I’m no saint, but this small act of kindness cost me about £20. I know 90% of people reading this will earn about 10 times that a day,” Pengelly wrote.
Moved to tears by his life-changing experience, Pengelly shared this encounter on Facebook hoping to ignite others’ kindness—and hundreds of thousands of people took notice.
“It costs nothing to be kind, and I genuinely hope people share this to raise awareness of homelessness throughout the UK!”
He didn’t just leave his act of kindness at that either—he has opened his home to Polly whenever she should need.
“Me and Polly have chatted on the phone and I’ve promised her that she will never go hungry or cold again! I’ve given her blankets, pillows and a backpack full of food,” Pengelly said.
“If you see someone on the streets, don’t look down on them like they’re nothing. You don’t know what they’ve been though! [sic] spare a little thought!” he wrote.