It all began when Nomad Donuts in North Park, San Diego, received a 1 star review on crowd-sourced ratings website Yelp.com. Not the first negative review the shop ever received; but the nature of it inspired a response, which in turn inspired a global community. The comment that went along with the, since removed, single star rating had indicated the complaint was about a homeless man who had set up against one of the shops outer walls. Apparently the customer didn’t feel great about buying a $5 doughnut while seeing a homeless person outside; which is fair, because who would feel good about spending so much money on a treat while people are homeless? But the response that came from this comment, by co-owner Brad Keiller, is what went viral.
Brad, 49, said “I understand how you feel, it’s not easy to look at, I know I probably lose some business, possibly yours, too, because of my choice not to chase him away, but I won’t. He’s not looking for handouts and he tries not to bother anyone. If you stop and talk to him, maybe you’ll come to like him, too.”
The man in question is Ray Taylor, 58, who has been on the streets since 2011, following a series of career and health setbacks that occurred during the recession. It wasn’t mental instability, or drugs or alcohol which put him on the street either. In 2007, he said he invested his savings in a startup company aimed at making fuel-efficient towing vehicles, but it went belly up a year later. Then, in 2010, his job with a San Diego semiconductor firm was outsourced. Unable to find work, out of money, and with no health insurance to pay for much-needed knee and hip replacement surgeries, he made the unorthodox decision to become homeless. His plan was to qualify for Social Security disability payments and Medicare to cover his surgeries. Having paid disability and Social Security taxes for decades, he felt it was only fair to ask the government for help. A choice Brad Keiller would never have considered – being born and raised in Canada he was used to universal healthcare. That is not the case in the states and medical bills drive many out of their homes.
But the story went viral, and the response was beautiful, people came out in droves to visit the shop and to say hi to Ray, and that respect and dignity would be enough to make this your Good News Story of the Day, read it here, but it doesn’t end there. Brad set up a GoFundMe for Ray, and it exceeded it’s goal within 6 days, that was 8 days ago, it is now over 5 times what they were hoping for and Ray’s life has already been improved – “Yesterday we withdrew $200 from the fund, which Ray used to buy a VISA gift card from the local Target. He treated himself to a hot meal from the Barons Market last night. He now has a bus pass thanks to you!!” Brad wrote on the page.
Lives can change from the smallest things; never be afraid to speak up or act.
Story and Image from San Diego Union Tribune.