Last week, many parts of the U.S. found themselves in the midst of a Polar Vortex, seeing record-breaking low temperatures. You know that expression, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”? Well, the going got tough last week, and … the tough got going.
Chicago was one of the hardest hit, with temperatures dropping at one point to -38° (F). Chicago, like most major cities, has a significant homeless population, and while the Salvation Army went around the city taking as many of the homeless as possible to shelters, there was still a contingent of homeless people living in a tent city on the South Side, using propane tanks for heat. Until … one of the propane tanks exploded, the fire department was called, and all the propane tanks were confiscated by city officials, who called them a ‘Level 1 Hazmat risk’.
“There was a significant amount of propane there. And, with that many cylinders, that’s like a bomb going off.” – Chicago Fire Chief Walter Schroeder
Right … but that left 70 people in tents with no way to keep warm on the second coldest night in the history of the city. City officials were contacting the Salvation Army, in hopes they might find room in some of their warming centers, when …Enter Candice Payne, a Chicago realtor, who heard about the homeless people and decided to be a good Samaritan. She used her American Express card and without hesitation, paid for motel rooms for the 70 homeless people in that tent city for the rest of the week! This, my friends, is what I mean when I refer to ‘social conscience’. Helping people who you know can never repay you, other than with a word of thanks and a hug.
But it didn’t end there! Candice posted about the plight of these people on social media, and in no time … well, I’ll let Candice tell you the rest …
“I went on social media and I posted, hey, I’m renting 20 hotel rooms for the homeless. If anyone has a van or a passenger van that will help me transport the homeless to the hotel, I’ll pay you. And it went completely viral. It allowed us to go from 20 rooms to 59 rooms for four nights.
They call me an angel, and these people, they – they want to work. They want to work for their room. What can I do for you? Some people probably look at them and, like, don’t understand their story. And the truth be told, with this government shutdown and all of that stuff, a lot of people are one paycheck away from that same situation.
I mean, there was a lot of people pulling up, dropping off food, blankets, and that’s fine. Well, below zero, the food was getting cold as soon as someone set it out there.”
You know … we hear things every day about people in need of help, whether the homeless, the poor, the disabled, the disenfranchised … and we say, “Somebody ought to do something.” Well, Candice Payne decided she was going to be the somebody to do something, and who knows how many might well owe their lives to Ms. Payne because she made that decision. My hat is off and my thumbs are up to Ms. Payne!
In Cleveland, Ohio, where the temperatures matched those of Chicago’s last week, resides another heroic young woman, Holly Jackson, whose motto is “Make the world a better place one person at a time.”25 years ago, Holly was living in a Cleveland homeless shelter. Since then she’s graduated college and has recently taken up a cause close to her heart. She’s giving back. Holly puts things like coats, hats, and gloves on fences around Northeast Ohio. She’s hoping that others join her on the pay it forward crusade.
“I wanted to do something to give back and make sure there’s not stigma to it. Whoever needs it, can take it.”
I have read of a number of other instances of people pitching in to help those less fortunate, such as the citizens of Kansas City, Missouri, who came to the rescue of a family of nine who were living in an apartment with no heat and no hot water. Or the pharmacist in Lake Odessa, Michigan, who hired her son and his snowmobile to make deliveries of medication to her patients who could not get to her pharmacy.
It may be cold outside, but inside, there are an awful lot of people with very warm hearts. When I first started this “Good People” feature in February 2017 … wow, I can’t believe it’s been two years already! … I noted that while it is not a political feature and I would avoid politics to the extent that I could, it might sometimes happen that a political figure or situation would play into the story. That said, I ask that you look at the people here, people digging into their own pockets, people giving of their most precious resource – time, and ask yourself how much the man in the Oval Office likely donated to help the homeless or the homebound during this time. Or any politician, for that matter? I say it’s time, if they claim to care so much for the people of this nation, for them to put their money where their mouths are. In this, the ‘Land of Milk and Honey’, we should not have people living on the streets. Period. The fact that we do is a reflection on the entire nation.
Meanwhile, hats off to all those good people who reached out to others, who may have saved lives last week. Thank you!