HOMELESS IN DOWNTOWN
DOOGOOD Vancouver #5
"There are always flowers for those who want to see them." -Henri Matisse
Yogi Omar was so strapped for cash that he nearly didn't stop to help a scruffy panhandler who asked him for change on a downtown street corner just after midnight Thursday.
But just as he was about to walk away, something compelled him to turn around and offer the man food and clothing.
"I wanted to give him food more than anything else, really," Omar, 30 said.
He stopped in his tracks, though, when the man refused his offer of help — and instead asked Omar what he could do for him.”
This story happened on the streets of downtown Vancouver, on December 19, 2013 and was reported by Vancouver Sun on 12.21.2013.
Turns out, the panhandler wasn't even homeless, but a wealthy benefactor participating in a random acts of kindness ritual with his family. For three hours every night for a week over Christmas, the man apparently hangs out on a street corner to see who is willing to help the down and out, while his family checks on him and brings warm drinks.
"He said, 'I do this with my family every year,'" Omar said. "They just want to see who cares about the homeless.
I was like, 'Wow, that's crazy.'"
Omar ended up speaking with the man, telling him how he had just bought expensive plane tickets to Guangzhou, China, to visit his dying father. The man offered to help but when Omar declined, he then asked him how much he paid for rent.
"I said $469," Omar said. "I was joking but that's what I pay.
He just whipped out this fanny pack and gave me $469 in cash. I was like, 'Is this serious?' I was really stunned at that point."
The man, whom Omar described as a Caucasian in his 50s wearing a plaid shirt, refused to give his name.
"He said, 'That's part of the deal, I have to remain anonymous. Just keep doing good things,'" Omar said.
"I guess that's what karma is, you don't expect anything back."
Omar headed home to his basement suite and immediately posted his tale of good fortune on Facebook. When he woke the next day, he was greeted with a "bazillion messages" from friends and strangers, and then went upstairs and paid his rent.
"I was very, very stunned. I was thinking about this the whole time," said Omar, who is co-owner of InspirationALL Talent and Modelling Group.
"I was like, 'I don't know what to say. What do I do?' I thought, I'm going to tell people ... it's weird but wonderful."
Omar maintains he often helps the homeless, and once even had a down-and-out teenager write a poem for him because he stopped to listen to him one day. The timing was a bit off this time, he said, as he was financially strapped because of the cost of the plane tickets, but he's glad he offered to help.
"I just feel a lot of times people don't have the time or opportunity to be heard," he said, adding he's torn about wanting to know his benefactor's name. "I do and I don't. I want to thank him properly but I don't because that is what he wants ... Inspiration comes from anywhere."
Picture from Matt Collamer, who offers free, beautiful high-quality photos for good use. Thank you Matt!