Image source: Greg Smith's Facebook
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"There are a lot of people out there like Amy Joe, not all are hungry, homeless, or hurt. Some could be your family or friends. "
It all began when a Florida man walked past a homeless woman every day for about a week on his way to work in downtown Orlando.
Greg Smith, 25, wrote in a Facebook post about his encounters with a woman who introduced herself to him as Amy Joe.
"Each day for about a week I saw Amy Joe at this corner and she never asked for money...she simply said 'Good morning Sir, have a great day. God Bless!!' and smiled," Smith wrote. "I wear a suit to work everyday so I get asked a lot for money quite often downtown...but never once from Amy Joe."
Smith said that he and Amy Joe soon began to sit down to have lunch together every Tuesday as the two got to know each other and trade stories.
"For 30 min to an hour I get to hear how positive she is even though she really has nothing," Smith wrote in his post.
But Smith was dumbfounded one day last week when Amy Joe suddenly "dropped a bomb" on him.
"She cannot read," Smith explained. "Amy Joe does not smoke, drink, have a drug addiction, or anything to that nature. She simply just has never had anyone teach her how to read. She told me how hard it was for her to find work not being able to read. She began to tell me any money that she can collect she uses to check out library books that help with learning to read instead of buying FOOD."
Smith said that he couldn't believe what she had told him.
"This crushed me!!! She would rather learn to read to maybe find a job then eat!!!" Smith wrote. "I have been blessed with two amazing parents and a family that has always had resources to provide me with anything I wanted to do. Amy Joe has not."
That's when Smith decided to do something that would help Amy Joe achieve her dreams.
"So now not only do Amy Joe and I sit and have lunch, I'm teaching her to read. I rent one library book a week and we read it together Tuesday and she practices on her own throughout the rest of the week."
Smith insists that his Facebook post was not meant to brag about what he has done to help Amy Joe or to make anyone else feel sorry for her.
"I wanted to share this because maybe this can lead to someone helping another person. There are a lot of people out there like Amy Joe, not all are hungry, homeless, or hurt. Some could be your family or friends. Helping someone could be as easy as saying hello and smiling," Smith wrote. "Who is your Amy Joe?!?!?"
Smith's story, which began going viral across social media on Friday and over the weekend, has been shared almost 38,000 times. After receiving such an overwhelming response, Smith decided to create a GoFundMe page to raise money for a foundation he has called the "Amy Joe Foundation," according to ABC News. The foundation, which carries the slogan "One person at a time," seeks to aid the homeless in his community.
"I want to be able to help anybody, whether it be giving them some food or clothes," Smith told ABC News. "I don't want to just narrow it down to helping people read because there's so many other people that need more help."
Follow Kathryn Blackhurst (@kablackhurst) on Twitter
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