You never know when you’ll be able to offer someone who is down on their luck a helping hand.
In January of 2017, realtor ShelbyLynn Alexander was stopped at a red light in Jacksonville, North Carolina, when she noticed a homeless man with his dog on the side of the road. The man was holding a cardboard sign with a simple note written in Sharpie: “Need a little help. Will pay it forward.”
She noticed that his clothes were shabby and not warm enough for the 30-degree weather, yet he had selflessly wrapped blankets around his dog to keep the animal warm. She knew she had to reach out of her comfort zone and help — however she could.
“I pulled over by him, explained that I usually only gave food instead of money, and gave him three bills folded around my real estate business card in case he needed help finding another place to live,” she explained.
ShelbyLynn saw the look of shame that crossed his face as he accepted the money. Unsure of whether the man was actually homeless or if he was just down on his luck, she said a little prayer for him and drove away.
Several months later, the realtor received a call from a new client at work. The man had asked for her by name, and she arranged to meet him that night to show him a house in the area.
As soon as she pulled into the driveway, she recognized the dog she’d seen huddled in blankets all those months back, except now the dog looked plump and happy as he hung out of the window of a new pickup truck.
To her delight and surprise, the man she’d helped stepped out of the truck as well. He was well-dressed and freshly shaven. ShelbyLynn admitted, “The first thought that crossed my mind was that he had scammed me by pretending to need money in those dingy clothes, but I later found out that was not the case at all.”
With tears in his eyes, the man handed her three fresh bills wrapped in her wrinkled business card.
“I was speechless,” she said. “He explained that his ex-wife had taken everything he owned, besides his dog, and had run off with another man. At the time, he didn’t need a handout, just help.”
The man, an engineer by trade, had gotten himself a new job, new truck, and a new lease on life. He was looking at the house for a friend and knew he wanted to repay the realtor for her good deed by bringing business to her. He was truly ‘paying it forward,’ as his sign had promised.
What I learned from tonight is that you never know what someone has going on in his or her life, and it can be so easy to judge from the outside looking in without knowing the circumstances,” the realtor said.