Pittsburghs’ Jon Potter won’t soon forget the wave of regret that washed over him in the moments after he turned down a woman’s request for a ride to a battered women’s shelter in the summer of 2015.
In fact, the incident was a “formative moment” for the 29-year-old handyman, who had been running a donation-based hostel at his home, letting people pick their contribution for their stay. Immediately afterward, he vowed to say yes anytime someone asked him for help.
“I always worried about what happened to that woman,” he tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, on newsstands today. “It’s a haunting thought that I could have helped her and I didn’t. I never wanted to feel that again.”
In the four years since, the Pittsburgh-based Potter has stuck to his resolution, and estimates that he’s helped more than 1,000 people with an average of about three or four good deeds per day.
He typically uses Reddit to complete his acts of kindness, often browsing the Pittsburgh subreddit in search of strangers seeking help with everything from installing an antenna on a roof to giving a teenager a much-needed ride home from a party in the early morning hours.
Though Potter says his favorite good deed was the $2,000 he lent to a suicidal man who has since become his close friend, the one that left the biggest mark so far is the kidney he donated to a retired health food executive.
Looking ahead, Potter says he hopes to keep doing good for as long as he can.
“I just do it because it makes me feel good,” he says. “I get just as much if not more out of it than people I help.”
Good news indeed!