Along with her family, Michelle Noyes was enjoying the December winter season with a drive through the town of Troy, Illinois. Gazing around the sights of the town, something that seemed a little off caught her eye. At first she thought it was simply a trash bag, but upon further inspection, she realized it was actually a man, curled up in a sleeping bag to escape the cold weather.
Noyes’s heart went out to him.
Purchasing a hot drink for the man from a nearby Dunkin’ Doughnuts, Noyes approached him and handed it over. The man gladly accepted the beverage. Then she listened, and found out his name was William Bozman and that he was a former marine who’d fallen on some bad times.
“It made me feel awful, thinking about someone out in the cold like that,” Noyes explained to BND.com. “His face was so, so red from the cold.
“When he took his head out of the sleeping bag, I could see how cold and miserable he was.”
Noyes decided that she wanted to do something to help Bozman. Using the tools available to her, she took to social media to share a plea for help.
She never expected her post to blow up the way it did.
Things began to take off quickly. Local Troy citizens began visiting Bozman to drop off supplies to him. In addition to receiving things like food and drinks, he also was given clothes and a new pair of boots. Most impactfully however, the town also raised over 500 dollars, which was enough to get Bozman off the streets and onto a bus to New York where he had a friend he could stay with.
It even included enough to sustain him with further foods and drinks throughout the trip.
For Bozman, it was like he was given a second chance and fresh start in life.
“It was really beautiful,” Johanna Hartlein from Making a Difference shared. “Not one person said, ‘Is he black or white?’ or ‘He should get a job’ or ‘He’s probably on drugs.’ No one asked one question of judgment.
“People just came together to help a stranger who needed it.”
Accepting all of the donations, Bozman is now hopeful once again for the future. He has a lot in life he still hopes to accomplish.
“In the span of a few hours, he went from freezing and hungry to full and happy and with a bus ticket and a few hundred bucks in his pocket,” Tony Hilker, founder of Making A Difference shared. “To see the community of Troy come together like that, that was really cool to see.”
For Noyes who began the entire project with just a simple Facebook post, the reaction reaffirmed the belief that there still exist in people an inherent goodness and desire to do kind deeds.
Noyes hopes Bozman’s story will inspire others to do similarly in a paying-it-forward sort of manner. For now she’s just glad Bozman got a second chance.