When Greg Smith started to get to know a homeless woman near his workplace, he perhaps never expected her to reveal something shocking to him. But when Smith heard what his lunch buddy had disclosed, he ultimately decided to step in and help her.
And in 2016 Smith, a personal trainer from Florida, hit the headlines for his remarkable actions. That, in turn, led to an outpouring of praise for the 25-year-old online, with one commenter subsequently lauding him as an “awesome dude.” But what did Smith do to deserve such an accolade?
Well, it all began on Smith’s commute to work, when he would frequently notice someone on the street. In particular, a homeless woman had caught his eye. And, as the personal trainer would later note on Facebook, the individual in question hadn’t ever asked him for a handout; instead, she had offered him cheery greetings.
Indeed, in that Facebook post from April 2016, Smith recalled that the woman used to say to him, “Good morning, sir, have a great day. God bless!” In time, though, that polite interaction ended up going one step further, as Smith decided to invite her to lunch.
And over food, Smith got to know his new-found friend, whose name was Amy Joe, even better. What’s more, their lunch meetings would soon become a weekly event; each Tuesday, the two of them would eat together and spend as long as an hour chatting.
During those times, Smith learned, moreover, that Amy Joe wasn’t addicted to drugs; nor did she smoke or have an alcohol problem. She did tell the personal trainer something that blew his mind, however. “Amy Joe kind of dropped a bomb on me,” Smith wrote in his Facebook post, which eventually went viral.
Specifically, Amy Joe revealed to her new buddy that she did not know how to read. She also explained that being illiterate had held her back when it came to finding a job. But, as it turned out, she had even more heartbreaking news to share with Smith.
That’s because Amy Joe told Smith that when passers-by were kind enough to give her money, she would not use it to buy food. Instead, she would often go to the library and take books out in order to teach herself how to read. “This crushed me,” Smith later wrote.
Smith continued in his Facebook post, “She would rather learn to read to maybe find a job than eat.” And listening to Amy Joe’s story made Smith reflect on his own circumstances. In particular, it helped him think about how fortunate he had been to have a supportive family and opportunities in life.
And after Amy Joe had divulged her secret, Smith decided that he needed to do something to help her. At the very least, he wanted to make sure that Amy Joe got the basic education that she deserved. So, as a result, he headed off to the library – and the pair’s weekly lunch meet-ups would subsequently become a little more educational.
Indeed, Smith would later reveal on Facebook, “I’m teaching [Amy Joe] to read.” That’s right: instead of simply sharing a meal with Amy Joe, the personal trainer started hiring out books from the library to bring to her, too. Then, on Tuesdays, the pair would sit and go through them together.
In between her appointments with Smith, though, Amy Joe would keep practicing by herself in order to improve her literacy skills. That’s according to the personal trainer’s Facebook post, which garnered its fair share of positive attention after it was made back in 2016. Many people were appreciative of Smith’s act of kindness, in fact.
As one commenter wrote underneath the post, “There needs to be more kind and humble people like you.” Another, meanwhile, said, “This is incredibly inspiring, and truly a divine act of selflessness.” But as it happens, there were some cynics, too.
One person went so far as to call Smith a “self-promoting idiot” for sharing the story on social media, for instance; they added that the 25-year-old had had “no discretion” in doing so. Another suggested that the personal trainer had only taught Amy Joe how to read and then told the world about it in order to receive wider recognition for himself and his business.
However, in Smith’s original Facebook post, he claimed that he only had good intentions when it came to spreading the word about his charitable act. He wrote that he didn’t want anyone to pity Amy Joe, either, and nor did he want anyone to congratulate him for his kind deed. Instead, he encouraged the post’s readers to do the same for others who could do with a hand in life.
Then, Smith ended his message with the following words, “I have been fortunate enough in my finances that I can take care of Amy Joe, so that’s what I’m going to do. But you never know what you can do for someone until you try. Who is your Amy Joe?”
And it seems as if Smith was indeed sincere in his intentions. After all, there’s evidence to suggest that he continued his efforts to support Amy Joe in the months after the post went viral. A Facebook photo from June 2016 shows the two of them grocery shopping, for instance, while another uploaded to Smith’s page the same month shows Amy Joe having her hair cut.
Not only that, but Smith has since set up a GoFundMe page for the “Amy Joe Foundation” in order to help his friend. To date, the drive has raised more than $10,000, and a video posted to Facebook by Smith shows he and Amy Joe in a car, thanking the public for their donations.
Aside from the fundraising, Smith has also helped get Amy Joe temporary accommodation at a hotel. Ideally, though, he wanted to find her somewhere permanent in which to live. “I’ve got a number of people working on trying to find her a place where she can stay for the rest of her life,” he told ABC News in May 2016. “Hopefully a place where she can live and work.”
And once Amy Joe checked into her new lodgings, Smith brought her essentials like food, clothes and money. Unfortunately, however, there’s been no news on how the homeless woman has fared since. Let’s hope, then, that Amy Joe managed to use her newly acquired reading skills to find work and that the tale of Smith’s kindness continues to inspire people to put others first.