I have lived a fortunate life, comfortable enough, but never too far from catastrophe. I’ve been hungry, and there were periods in childhood where shelter was complicated.
So when I see panhandlers holding up a sign on the side of the road, I’m never disgusted. Whenever possible (cash and traffic permitting), I offer a dollar or two unconcerned about how they choose to use it.
Caught in similar circumstances, I hope that others would show the same sort of kindness to me. I believe when you put goodness out there, goodness returns to you when you need it most.
Kate McClure, 27, of Florence Township, New Jersey, was driving along I-95 headed to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in October. Before she reached her destination, she ran out of gas.
A bit panicked, she was able to get to the side of the road and got out of her car to walk to a gas station. She was startled by an approaching homeless man who told her to get back into her car and lock the doors.
A short time later, the man, Johnny Bobbitt Jr., 34, returned with a filled gas can and emptied it into her vehicle. He’d spent his last $20.
McClure didn’t have any cash on her, but promised to return with “something.” In the next few weeks she returned to the area along I-95 with money, food, supplies, and gift cards for her new friend and guardian angel.
When McClure brought Bobbitt cereal bars, he offered her one. When McClure brought gift cards and a case of water, Bobbitt was excited to take it back and share with “the guys.”
With each trip, accompanied by her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, the couple learned more about the down-trodden good Samaritan. Bobbitt had been homeless for about a year.
What started as a night on the street turned into weeks and then months. Along the way he met a few homeless men and they have since looked after each other.
A former paramedic, Bobbitt came to Philadelphia on a job lead that fell through. Soon, his savings was depleted.
Around this time, Bobbitt lost his state-issued identification and his VA paperwork from being in the Marine Corps. He could no longer prove his right to work, and didn’t have the money to replace the missing documents.
Browsing through Bobbitt’s old Facebook photos, the couple was shocked at how quickly things changed for the former first responder. “It’s crazy, you can relate to that,” McClure told NJ.com, “You look through and think, ‘that could be me.’”
The couple knew they needed to do more than drop off supplies. They wanted to get Bobbitt back on his feet.
On Nov. 10 the couple started a GoFundMe page on Bobbitt’s behalf. They set a $10,000 goal and intend to use the money to cover move-in expenses, a reliable car, plus rent, food, and utilities for a few months while he gets back on his feet.
When the fund hit $1,700, the couple surprised Bobbitt with the news and a bottle of champagne. “That changes my life, right there,” he told the couple adding, “I’ve honestly met more good people than bad.”
Bobbitt is currently in the process of replacing his paperwork. He aspires to work for the nearby Amazon warehouse and eventually to recertify as a paramedic.
As of Nov. 22, the $10,000 goal set by McClure and D’Amico has been reached and doubled. The pair has raised over $21,000 on Bobbitt’s behalf from sharing on social media sites.
They intend to continue to support their new friend through the transition and have faith that he will come through the other side a true success story. They have been touched by the outpouring of support throughout the social media community.
At a time when headlines are filled with negativity and violence, it’s hard to see humanity through the muck. The chance meeting of these two individuals, however, proves that the Golden Rule is alive and well.
It’s stories like this — people helping people regardless of status or circumstance — that allows us all to keep faith in humanity. I know my resolve to give and volunteer whenever I can has been strengthened after learning McClure’s and Bobbitt’s story.