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A small gesture of kindness



Yesterday, outside of Whole Foods a man was selling a newspaper to help the homeless. I gave him the suggested donation of a dollar and got the newspaper One Step Away, a local paper produced by the homeless for the community. One of the articles was on a film company offering second chances to those in recovery from homelessness. This paper is a fantastic resource more people should support.

I have seen one homeless woman at my local church for more than a year now. Every Saturday I take the girls to my local Catholic church; it has been part of our routine since they were babies. I often spot this homeless woman in a back pew. It breaks my heart whenever I see her.

Yesterday, I walked past her to get some bulletins for the kids to draw on. I gave her a five-dollar bill and an unopened water bottle. She tried to push the money away but I left it next to her.

As I sat through the service, I glanced back once or twice to see her. She had her head down and coughed off and on. I remember the last time I spotted her — it was a cold day and I was pushing Kaitlyn in the stroller. She was walking north on Broad Street with a chair in tow.

So at church yesterday, I passed by the woman again to take the girls to the bathroom. I handed her two granola bars I had packed for the girls. This time, she did not push my hand away and gave me the biggest smile, a grateful smile.

This time, she did not push my hand away and gave me the biggest smile, a grateful smile.

The weekly mass is part of her routine, as it is mine. We have spoken briefly in the past. I say to her, “You take care of yourself.” She has said to me, “Don’t give up.” When I do not see her for a month or two, I have wondered how she was doing. Was she safe? Was she cold or hungry? Was she mentally ill?

As I drove home last night with the girls, I spotted her eating the granola bar, waiting for the light to turn green to cross the street. I do not know where she was headed, but I hoped she would be safe and warm.

Next week, when I see her in church I will bring more granola bars and water. Sometimes even a small kind gesture can make a difference in someone’s life.

Erin Flynn Jay is a Philadelphia writer, public relations executive and mom of two toddler girls. Check out her blog, Mastering the Mommy Track.

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