Most of us take for granted the things we have, such as a roof over our heads, home-cooked meals on our tables, and comfortable mattresses on which to sleep. We don’t worry too much about it because we know we’ll always have them. While this is generally true, certain people, such as the homeless, are not so fortunate.
Officer Michael Rivers, 29, has worked for the Goldsboro Police Department in North Carolina for the past nine years. Since he started his employment, he’s known the faces and names of the homeless in his area. In March, however, he met a woman who didn’t look like anyone he knew. She caught his attention not only because she was a new face, but also because of the powerful statement emblazoned across the front of her white blouse. It said, “Homeless.” It’s the easiest way to disappear.”
Rivers was driving with his windows down, and as he passed, the two exchanged eyes. They acknowledged each other with a casual “Hey,” and the police drove away. However, something compelled him to return. He couldn’t shake the image of the homeless woman from his mind. “God put it on my heart to buy her lunch,” he told CNN. “So I approached him and asked, ‘Hey, did you eat today?’ ‘No,’ she replied. Because he didn’t know what she liked, he went to a nearby shop and ordered a pepperoni and cheese pizza. Rivers also got the two of them some beverages.
He went back to the homeless woman’s location and sat down next to her on the grass. Rivers commented that while the food was delicious, the conversation they had was even better.
For the next 45 minutes, the officer and the woman, who identified herself as Michelle, talked about their lives. Rivers discovered she had two children in foster care, a 23-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter with liver disease. Her homeless partner stood across the street from them as they talked.
A bystander, Cassie Lea Parker, captured the touching moment on camera, which her boyfriend later shared on Facebook. “During her lunch break, Cassie noticed Goldsboro’s Finest having lunch with a homeless person. Law enforcement contributes significantly to our community, much of which goes unnoticed. Goldsboro Police Department, we see you. Chris Barnes captioned the photo, “Keep up the good work.”
After finishing their meal, the two parted ways. As a result of their interactions, Rivers recognized that he and Michelle were viewed similarly by society. Homeless people are frequently looked down upon and blamed for their situation. On the other hand, police officers have a bad reputation because society only sees the “bad apples.” “Homeless folks are just people who are down on their luck,” Rivers defended the homeless. “Anyone could be harmed.” Rivers, for example, has stated that he did not become a cop to make life difficult for others. “When I get to work, I ask myself, ‘Who can I bless today?’ He uttered, “Who can I make smile?” “I’m not the one who wants to kidnap someone’s father or mother and imprison them.”
As their story went viral thanks to Parker’s photo and CNN, heartfelt comments poured in. “Awesome! This is incredible! May God bless him and protect him! I truly hope this mother and her family can find their way! Life has a way of bringing us all to our knees!” The piece was written by Sherry Cox Player. Rivers received a lot of love online, but some people went above and beyond to express their gratitude by sending him physical notes.
What a touching human tale! Regardless of current events, this story shows that there is still good in the world. May we all learn to think like Officer Rivers and look for ways to help others.