It's been very cold in many parts of the country including New York City where I live. Sadly, there are many homeless people who sleep out on the streets. A homeless man froze to death last week while sleeping in the park outside my children's school, which greatly saddened my community who tries to help those in need as much as possible. It could feel overwhelming, but helping just one person could be that gesture to get others to help more.
Two companies -- Whatever video and clothing maker Thread Society -- wanted to clothe the homeless, give them more layers in hopes to keep them warmer in these frigid temps. That's when they met the homeless 53-year-old father of two Jaroslav Nemcovsky. They spoke to him, learned his story, and what resulted was an extremely beautiful gesture that has changed this man's life.
Jaroslav was approached in Union Square by Brandon Levithan, owner of Thread Society, to see if he needed any clothing, but he didn't speak much English. He is from the Czech Republic but also spoke Russian. One of the team to clothe the homeless and Levithan's girlfriend, Simona Kanevsky, spoke Russian and she was able to learn what happened to Jaroslav. "I explained to him that we were a clothing company giving out sweatshirts, hats, and gloves," Kanevsky said. "I asked if he wanted anything and all he responded with was, 'I just want to go home ... to Czech.'"
He had come from Prague to find work in the States and was employed down in Florida until September when he lost his job. He traveled to NYC to find work, but was robbed of all his money ($1,000) and his belongings including his passport and his phone after falling asleep at Port Authority. He was already having a lot of trouble finding work and living off the last of his savings. They even stole his shoes. Jaroslav thought he would die in the cold. The police didn't help him and the Czech consulate was able to help him get a passport, but that was it. He thought he would never see his family back home again. He missed his son and his daughter terribly. His hope had just about run out when these strangers decided to help him. But they not only gave him some clothes, they restored his hope.
They were inspired by homeless US Army Vet Jim Wolf's makeover and got Jaroslav a hotel room so he could shower and get into clean clothes. They took him to get his hair cut and a shave and some delicious New York pizza. "He was so grateful, explaining to me that he has never had a beard so long in his life and hasn't been able to shave in two months," Kanevsky said.
The team who set out to clothe the homeless decided to do something bigger, they bought Jaroslav a one-way ticket back home to the Czech Republic. They drove him to the airport, saying goodbye at the gate, and watched him get his wish ... to be with his family again.
It's always the season to do good for others, and this team sure made a huge change in Jaroslav's life. They exchanged contact information and I'm hoping to hear an even more positive update in Jaroslav's life.
Obviously we can't all help those in need in such grand ways, but we can all do small gestures, even random acts of kindness, for others. Kindness can be catching, and if we all pay it forward, perhaps more and more will as well. We are all humans ... and this is humanity at its finest.
Did this bring tears to your eyes as well?