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NC Goldsboro Police Officer spotted sharing lunch with a homeless woman. Photo: Chris Barnes | Facebook
NC Goldsboro Police Officer spotted sharing lunch with a homeless woman. Photo: Chris Barnes | Facebook

All it takes is one act of kindness 

Goldsboro, NC Police Officer Michael Rivers has come to know all the faces of the homeless in his community. However on Wednesday (March 11, 2020) he came across a homeless woman he has never seen before. It was her shirt that caught his eye. It read: “Homeless. The fastest way of becoming a nobody.” He had his windows down so they both made eye contact and acknowledged each other with a simple, “Hey.” and he drove away, but something kept tugging at him to go back, Rivers said.

Officer Michael Rivers
Officer Michael Rivers

“God put it on my heart to get her lunch,” the 29-year-old officer told CNN. “So I turned around and I asked her, ‘Hey, did you eat today?’ And she said, ‘No.’ So he grabbed pepperoni and cheese pizzas from a nearby pizza shop and sat down on the grass next to her. The pizza they shared was great, Rivers said, but the conversation was even better. For 45 minutes, Rivers and the homeless woman, who he said identified herself as Michelle, shared their life stories.   

The heartwarming moment was captured in a photo by someone passing by and it was shared on Facebook.

“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 said in his Facebook post, which has since gathered over 1,000 likes and more than 3,000 shares.   

As the two started talking, Michelle told Rivers she has a 12-year-old daughter who is battling liver disease and in foster care. She also has a 23-year-old son, Rivers said. Her husband, also homeless, stood across the street as the two talked. Once they finished their lunch, they went their separate ways. Officer Rivers said the interaction made him realize that he and Michelle were similar in how they are perceived by society.

The reality of it all 

People who are homeless are often shunned by society and blamed for bringing the situation upon themselves. Meanwhile, Rivers said he feels police officers are often portrayed in a negative light as society focuses on just the “bad apples.” He then added that “homeless people are just people who are down on their luck,” Rivers said. “It can happen to anybody.” I didn’t set out to be a police officer because I wanted to ruin a person’s day, Rivers said. “I come to work and my method is, ‘Who can I bless today? Who can I make smile?” Rivers said. ‘”I’m not the one that wants to take somebody’s father or mother away and put them in jail.”

Police Chief Michael West said he saw the picture circulating on social media and applauded Rivers for his good deed.

“The circumstances around our job are often an unpleasant call to service, but this picture just shows we’re human like anyone else and any chance we get to serve the community and help people, we take that chance,” West told CNN. “I’m very fortunate to have Officer Rivers in our department.”

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