SYRACUSE N.Y. (NCC NEWS) — Life changing moments can happen anywhere. Syracuse resident Gavin Collins found this to be true after seeing a homeless man on the corner each day on his way to work. Collins decided to stop daily and give some change to the man out the kindness of his heart. The interaction quickly grew into much more.
“It started off as hey, here you go,” said Collins. “Then it started off as hey, how you doing. And then it was kind of like a regular shared dialogue. I’d give him some change and then he’d tell me a restaurant that I should try out or something like that.”
For Collins, giving to those in need is the least he can do. It’s something he now believes can even change lives.
“He initially said you kept me off the streets,” said Collins. “He said that he had been struggling with drugs for a while and just like the extra money helped him out.”
Collins gave and gave to the man on the corner until he stopped seeing him there. Randomly, the two bumped into each other at restaurant where the man was able to express his gratitude to Collins.
“It was nice to see him in a progressed stage in his life,” said Collins. “Kind of entering into a new beginning for himself.”
Collins is just one example of how one person can make a big difference. The founder of the non-profit organization We Rise Above the Streets, Al-Amin Muhammad, has a similar story at the foundation of his organization. After serving a prison sentence and being chronically homeless for seven years, Muhammad was encouraged to enroll in the Center for Self Sufficiency Program in Atlanta, Georgia by a man named Ronald Santos.
“When you’re trying to get into a shelter slash self sufficiency to find you a job and housing you had to be on the list,” said Muhammad. “So I signed my name on the list but it took a while for me to get in. Actually I gave up. So it was a night that I was about to commit suicide and end my life and I seen Mr. Santos riding by and he stopped me and he told me to get in the car. We been looking for you for weeks. Your name is on the list.”
The exact place Muhammad wanted his name to be at a life saving moment in time. A save that served as the catalyst for his community outreach program. Muhammad holds Sandwich Saturday’s each weekend. In the seven years this program has been going on, they have served over 90,000 sack lunches and given out over 50,000 hats, gloves or jackets to those in need.
Muhammad says that it is all possible thanks to Mr. Santos, the man who saved his life.