Monday, February 19, 2024

What Do You Need to Stay Warm?

An elderly homeless woman in a worldly-possession laden wheelchair sat next to a very busy Atlanta street as we pulled up to the stoplight. Granddaughter has deep feelings about street people and homelessness, so it didn't surprise me when she reached into her bookbag to grab her wallet. 

Quick as a flash she grabbed a $20 bill, rolled down the window, and handed it to the woman. (OK, we can talk about why she was carrying around so much money, but that's not what matters here.) The woman was so, so grateful, thanking Charlotte over and over, with Charlotte nodding and waving.

As we pulled away I asked "Did you mean to give her $20? That's a lot of money." 

"Well, what do you need to stay warm? I wanted her to have enough money to help. Maybe she can buy a blanket or another sweater or a good hot meal." 

Now, before you go off on the standard cynical "yeah but she'll use it for drugs or booze," first: you don't know that, and second: Charlotte's response to that is "if it keeps her warm for a while . . . " The point being, she doesn't care how the woman spends the money. If it helps the woman, even temporarily, then she's fine with it. 

The goodness and human connection of the moment - a 10-year-old kid reaching out to an older homeless woman in a wheelchair on a busy Atlanta street corner -  is a core memory for me, demonstrating our common humanity. I'm sure it was for Charlotte. And I hope it was for the woman.

Twenty dollars was a gift of love and a small price to pay. It was worth its weight in gold.


Liz Hinds said...

Wonderful! She's inherited goodness from you all.

Debbi said...

As a friend told me once--and I'll have to paraphrase--, it's not what the money does for them, but what it does for the person who shares.