Natalie Barnes, a public transit worker in Milwaukee, was honored for being an example of goodness this holiday season, according to ABC News.
What are the details?
In October, Barnes was driving her route when she picked up one of her regular passengers — an older man named Richard. Surveillance video captured the moment when Richard told Barnes that he was "officially homeless."
"I've been out on the streets for a week," Richard tells Barnes, and goes on to tell her that the house he'd been staying in had been condemned after the structure had caught fire some time ago.
Barnes reacts with shock and digs for more information on Richard's dire situation. She offers to buy him dinner, but he declines. So she asks if he'd like to run her route with her for another six hours. Richard does, and appears grateful to stay on the warm bus for the remainder of the cold October evening.
At the end of her shift, Barnes spoke more with Richard about his predicament, according to the outlet. She gave him food and set him up with a temporary shelter.
The Milwaukee County Transit System recognized Barnes for her efforts in helping the homeless man. During the ceremony, Barnes said that she helped Richard because he was an elderly man in need.
"It was important that he found somewhere warm to stay for the night, at minimum," she said, and later added that homelessness is a problem on her route, with "a lot of people who are looking in the garbages for food."
"[The homeless people are] underdressed," she said. "They don't have anywhere to go. ... They need help. They should have basic necessities like food and like clothing just to survive."
Barnes said that she gave Richard her cellphone number and keeps in regular contact with him.
"We talk every couple of days and he thanks me every time he talks to me for helping him," Barnes said. "He calls me his little guardian angel. I'm happy to say that he's progressing well."
A local advocate agency has found Richard permanent housing, ABC News reported.
County Executive Chris Abele lauded Barnes' compassion in a statement: "Natalie’s kindness, compassion and respect for this man in need are what MCTS Excellence is all about. Natalie demonstrated what we all need to do to fight homelessness: To look out for each other, to care for each other and to work together. I’m deeply grateful for Natalie’s actions."
According to the outlet, this commendation for outstanding service is Barnes' third.
In January, another female Milwaukee bus driver came to the rescue — this time it was to help a 6-year-old girl who'd rushed for help after her mother had a seizure. The incident, much like Barnes' own, was caught on bus surveillance footage.
Driver Michelle Mixon was stopped at a red light when a frantic little girl approached the open doors and cried, “My mommy! Mommy!”
The unidentified little girl's mother had suffered a seizure, and had fallen onto the snowy pavement near the bus.
“I’m scared,” the girl sobbed, as an ambulance was called for her mother.
Mixon — a mother and grandmother — comforted the young girl, holding her, and said, "OK, I know sweetie, I know. ... [T]hey’re going to take care of her."
Mixon remained with the youngster throughout her mother's scary episode and handed her over to emergency medical services when her mother was secured and ready to go to the hospital.
Mixon, who had been driving for the county's transit system, told her organization that the encounter with the little girl and her mother was the most memorable and emotional circumstance she experienced to date.