Joe Anzuena of Philadelphia passed the same woman sitting outside 30th Street Station several times on his way to work. She had a small child with her. "Tomorrow I'll stop. Tomorrow I'll talk to her," he thought. And on the third day, he did stop and changed not only his life and the family he met but also the lives of his family and friends.
Amy, her fiancé John, and their 3-year-old daughter Lily had been living on the street for months. Joe has a child, Finn, close in age to Lily and he was completely heartbroken to find out that due to the shelter's rules, John and Amy have to leave Lily to sleep alone in another shelter every night.
Joe wanted to help but wasn't sure what he could do. In desperation he posted on Facebook, "I cannot imagine dropping Finn off to sleep with a bunch of strangers... no kid deserves to deal with a situation like this. Thought you all might have some ideas."
His one post received 74 responses from friends and family, all of whom wanted to help.
First, it was discovered that the family had a GoFundMe account, which Joe shared on Facebook. Within 24 hours, the family's initial goal of $3000 was met! While this was great news, they soon found out it isn't easy to find an apartment without a phone and they needed a means to get access to the funds. On top of that, John was battling a bad eye infection.
Then, the pieces began to come together.
Lucy Noland of Fox 29 Philadelphia became aware via a mutual friend's Facebook share - and immediately reached out to offer visibility, her own experience, and her network of resources.
Shortly thereafter, one of Joe's college friends reached out about John's eyes. Now an ophthalmologist with Thorp Bailey Weber Eye Associates, Dr. Douglas Wisner created an opening for John in the schedule right away and insisted on providing the care for free. Further, the residents at Wills Eye Hospital are making glasses available to John.
Then Joe found that yet another college friend, Shannon Keene, worked with Bank of America. Shannon stepped forward with a personal connection to facilitate the banking needs and provide some basic financial education.
Joe purchased prepaid phone cards, and the next day, Jasmine Edwards of Miss Jazz Salon traveled all the way from Parkesburg, PA to provide free haircuts.
Finally, another friend introduced them to Volunteers of America, who have offered future assistance with the search for an apartment.
One by one, Joe's connections have become this family's angels.
There's been a lot of progress, but their plight is far from over. While they now have enough for a deposit on an apartment, it's tough to find a reputable place without discernible income, and there are other expenses as well.
Would you like to help? The GoFundMe is the best way to help this family, the money will be used for an apartment, health costs, food, supplies, and transportation.
They currently walk everywhere and have walked from one end of the city to the other to make appointments or get into shelters. Septa passes are available online and can be physically mailed. If you'd like to purchase - please reach out to Joe directly via his Facebook page.
The family is beyond grateful for Joe's help, and the help of his friends. All of these key people, people who are literally saving this family's lives as you read this, were in Joe's circle. Joe says he wasn't expecting this overwhelming response, he simply turned to his Facebook network of less than 1,000 friends asking "What can I do?"
I know because I am one of them.
Joe and I went to high school together, he introduced me to classic rock and helped me with chemistry, but after we graduated we went our separate ways. Like many, we kept in touch via Facebook, and I happened to see his post about this family. I reached out to offer my assistance, as did several of Joe's friends. Together, we are helping this family and you can, too.
Now imagine what YOUR circle can do: your grammar school, high school, college friends that you rarely talk to on Facebook. How about your old boss on Linked In. Your hairdresser's sister who tweets about cats. That friend from the gym that has the coolest snapchats.
Think about who you know. Then think about who THEY know.
Joe is a huge inspiration to me, and I hope to you as well. He stopped, he talked to people in need, he reached out for help, and then he went above and beyond.
So the next time you are walking by someone in need and you have a few minutes to spare, stop and ask if they would like a cup of tea or coffee. Go get two and stay to talk for a minute. Listen to what they need, then get those wheels turning as to how YOUR CIRCLE can help. It can change your life... and save theirs.
To help this family, please consider donating to the GoFundMe account, giving some clothes, toys, or Septa passes. Every little bit helps!
For any questions please email Info@SpotlightOnGiving.com