The personal trainer from South Florida, decided to take action when he received this piece of news from his new friend. What was it that caught the attention of so many?
How It All Began
It all began on Smith’s commute to work, when he would frequently notice a particular homeless woman who sat in the same spot. And, as the personal trainer would later remark, the individual in question hadn’t ever asked him for a handout; instead, she had offered him cheery greetings.
In The Business Of Helping
You see Smith was in the business of making people feel better. He was a personal trainer and was passionate about helping clients get back on track to feeling their best selves, both mentally and physically. When he saw this woman each morning, it reminded him that he wanted to do good in the world.
Friendly Greetings Hiding Something
Smith recalled that the woman used to say to him, “Good morning, sir, have a great day. God bless!” In time, though, that polite interaction ended up going one step further, as Smith decided to invite her to lunch.
A Weekly Meeting
And over food, Smith got to know his new-found friend – whose name was Amy Joe – even better. What’s more, their lunch meetings would soon become a weekly event; on Tuesdays, the two of them would eat and spend as long as an hour chatting together.
Dropping A Bomb
During those times, Smith learned, moreover, that Amy Joe wasn’t addicted to drugs, nor did she smoke or have an alcohol problem. She did tell the personal trainer something that blew his mind, however. “Amy Joe kind of dropped a bomb on me,” Smith wrote in his Facebook post, which eventually went viral.
What Did She Reveal?
Specifically, Amy Joe revealed to her new friend that she did not know how to read. She also explained that being illiterate had held her back when it came to finding a job. But, as it turned out, she had even more heartbreaking news to share with Smith.
That’s because Amy Joe told Smith that when passers-by were kind enough to give her money, she would not use it to buy food. Instead, she chose to go to the library and take books out in order to teach herself how to read. “This crushed me,” Smith later wrote.
Couldn’t Believe His Ears
Smith continued in his Facebook post, “She would rather learn to read to maybe find a job than eat.” And listening to Amy Joe’s story made Smith reflect on his own circumstances. In particular, it helped him think about how fortunate he had been to have a supportive family and opportunities in life. It really got him thinking about what to do.
And after Amy Joe had divulged her secret, Smith decided that he needed to do something to help her. At the very least, he wanted to make sure that Amy Joe got the basic education that she deserved. So, as a result, he headed off to the library – and the pair’s weekly lunch meet-ups would subsequently become a little more educational.
Teaching Her How To Read
Smith later revealed on Facebook, “I’m teaching [Amy Joe] to read.” That’s right: instead of simply sharing a meal with Amy Joe, the personal trainer started hiring out books from the library to bring to her, too. Then, on Tuesdays, the pair would sit and go through them together.
Keeping Her Spirits Up
In between her appointments with Smith, though, Amy Joe would keep practicing by herself in order to improve and show him that she had been practicing. Many people were appreciative of Smith’s act of kindness, in fact….
Being Publicly Confronted
One customer in the library came up to him and said: “There needs to be more kind and humble people like you.” Another said, meanwhile, “This is incredibly inspiring, and truly a divine act of selflessness.” But, as it happens, there were some cynics, too.
Not As Peachy As It Seemed
One person went so far as to call Smith a “self-promoting idiot” for sharing the story on social media, for instance; they added that the 25-year-old had had “no discretion” in doing so. Another suggested that the personal trainer had only taught Amy Joe how to read and then told the world about it in order to receive wider recognition for himself and his business. What did he reply to the negativity?
However, in Smith’s original Facebook post, he claimed that he only had good intentions when it came to spreading the word about his charitable act. He wrote that he didn’t want anyone to pity Amy Joe, either, nor did he want anyone to congratulate him for his kind deed. Instead, he encouraged the post’s readers to do the same for others who could do with a hand in life.
Wanting To Give Back
Then, Smith ended his message with the following words, “I have been fortunate enough in my finances that I can take care of Amy Joe, so that’s what I’m going to do. But you never know what you can do for someone until you try. Who is your Amy Joe?”
And it seems as if Smith was indeed sincere in his intentions. He continued his efforts to support Amy Joe in the months after the post went viral. A Facebook photo from June 2016 shows the two of them grocery shopping, for instance, while another uploaded to Smith’s page the same month shows Amy Joe having her hair cut.
Doing More Than His Part
Not only that, but Smith has since set up a GoFundMe page for the “Amy Joe Foundation” in order to help his friend. To date, the drive has raised more than $10,000, and a video posted to Facebook by Smith shows he and Amy Joe in a car, thanking the public for their donations.
Wanting Her To Have A Home
As well as fundraising, Smith has also helped get Amy Joe temporary accommodation at a hotel. He really hoped to find her somewhere permanent to live. “I’ve got a number of people working on trying to find her a place where she can stay for the rest of her life,” he told ABC News in May 2016. “Hopefully a place where she can live and work.
And once Amy Joe checked into her temporary accommodation, Smith brought her essentials like food, clothes and money. He spread the message in order to get others to do the same. He set up an initiative on his Facebook to urge others to go and help strangers.
Did It Work?
“I want to be able to help anybody, whether it be giving them some food or clothes,” Smith said. “I don’t want to just narrow it down to helping people read because there’s so many other people that need more help.”
He began to raise a little more than $1,000, and even met with a lawyer to develop the organization. He has even decided on his slogan: “One person at a time.” So what happened to his new friend?
he wrote on his Facebook page ‘Amy Joe and I want to say thank you to everyone that has offered their help!!!! It’s crazy what this has become and we both can’t thank everyone enough. Many people have reached out to offer resources or encouraging words and i am glad to share this post that you now can offer whatever you wish. Whether it be $1 dollar, $5 dollars or a share/like on the video; whatever it is it will help bring more amazing awareness to help “One Person at a Time!!!” This has personally changed my life and I know it is going to change many more.’
Life Changed Forever
Some weeks later, after receiving an inpouring of donations he wrote ‘WE DID IT!!! I am so grateful that I have gotten to be apart of something so special. I want to thank Amy Joe for changing my life. I never expected the first day Amy Joe and I had lunch what this would turn into, but I guess the greatest things in life come when you least expect them. God Bless!!! ‘
Words To Live By
This story is truly heart-warming. The way he changed one person’s life, is paying it forward, so they can succeed and help others too. He said that his new friend showed him that if you just create good habits, it’ll change your attitude towards everything. She is doing well, she got a job and still goes back to the library every day to read. Greg and her still remain good friends. She even attended his wedding.