Most of us tend to take the things we’re blessed to have for granted – a roof over our heads, home-cooked meals on our tables, comfortable beds to sleep in, and more. We don’t think too much of it, because we’re confident that we’ll always have them. While this is true most of the time, some people—like the homeless—aren’t as lucky.
Officer Michael Rivers, 29, has been with the Goldsboro Police Department in North Carolina for the past nine years. Ever since his tenure began, he’s known the faces and names of the homeless people in his community. But in March, he came across a woman who didn’t look familiar. Aside from being a new face, she caught his attention because of the poignant message written across her white shirt. It said: “Homeless. The fastest way of becoming a nobody.”
Rivers had his windows down while driving, and the two made eye contact as he passed. They acknowledged each other with a casual “Hey,” and the cop drove away.
However, something compelled him to go back. He couldn’t get the homeless woman out of his mind.
“God put it on my heart to get her lunch,” he told CNN. “So I turned around and I asked her, ‘Hey, did you eat today?’ And she said, ‘No.’”
He then grabbed both a pepperoni and cheese pizza from a nearby shop, since he didn’t know what she liked. Rivers also got sodas for both of them.
He came back to the spot where the homeless woman was, and he sat down on the grass next to her. While the meal was delicious, Rivers said the conversation they had made it even better.
For the next 45 minutes, the cop and the woman, who identified herself as Michelle, chitchatted about their lives. Rivers learned that she had two children: a 23-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter battling liver disease and in foster care. She had a husband, also homeless, who stood across the street as they were talking.
The heartwarming moment was captured by a passerby named Cassie Lea Parker, whose boyfriend shared it on Facebook.
“Cassie was out on her lunch break and observed Goldsboro’s Finest enjoying lunch with a homeless person. Law enforcement does so much for our community, with a lot of it going unnoticed. We see you Goldsboro P.D. Keep up the good work,” Chris Barnes captioned the photo.
After finishing their meal, the two parted ways. From their conversation, Rivers realized that he and Michelle were similar in how they’re judged by society.
Homeless people are often looked down upon by others and blamed for the situation they’re in. On the other hand, police officers have a negative reputation because society chooses to see only the “bad apples.”
“Homeless people are just people who are down on their luck,” Rivers said in defense. “It can happen to anybody.”
As for himself, Rivers said he didn’t become a cop to make other people’s lives miserable.
“I come to work and my method is, ‘Who can I bless today? Who can I make smile?” he said. ‘”I’m not the one that wants to take somebody’s father or mother away and put them in jail.”
As their story went viral because of Parker’s photo and CNN, heartfelt comments kept coming.
“Awesome! Love this! God bless this man and and keep him safe! I hope this woman and her family can find their way! Life has a way of beating all of us down!” Sherry Cox Player wrote.
Aside from getting a lot of love online, some people went the extra mile and sent Rivers handwritten letters to express their appreciation.
What an amazing story of humanity! Despite what’s happening right now, this story proves we can still find good in this world. May we all learn to be like Officer Rivers and look to bless others every opportunity we get.