Barnes was driving one chilly night in October, when a regular passenger, Richard, whom she easily recognized, told her that he is officially homeless. Barnes’ response sounded as if the two already had an exchange about this matter before it happened. “The house that you were staying in? The same one that had the fire?”, she said.
Richard expounds on the incident, and Natalie immediately offered to buy him dinner. Refusing the offer, she proposed that he stays with her on the bus for temporary shelter and warmth until her shift ends.
The viral footage shows that Richard stayed for a whole of six hours. Another part of the footage shows that the two went out to buy some food. After the duration of his stay at the bus, he thanked Natalie and promised her that he will return the favor. “I don’t know what to say but to say thank you, I’ll get it back to you soon.” While she politely declined and said: “No, no. Don’t worry about that. I want to help you.”
ABC News confirms that Natalie even reached out to a friend to accommodate Richard for a temporary home and when he was about to leave the bus, she asked him to update her about his current state or if he will be needing anything.
Later after this incident, Barnes was awarded through a ceremony initiated by the transit agency she was working for. She shared what drove her to help Richard– he was an elder, he didn’t have shelter, and that he’s just one of the many who are out on the streets, also in need of help.
“They don’t have anywhere to go… They need help. They should have basic necessities like food and like clothing just to survive.”
Barnes also mentioned that they’ve been talking through text, and told her that he’s doing well. He also calls her his little guardian angel and continually thanks her for all the help that she has given him.
County Executive Chris Abele is grateful for Barnes’ gesture because he believes that this will create a good impact to others, with a possible effect of paying it forward.
“Across Milwaukee County, employees are focusing on empowering people and strengthening community, and we are investing resources throughout the County to reduce homelessness. 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.”
One’s act of kindness can go a long way, especially now that people are living in the digital age, things like these can easily go viral. With this, seeing people doing genuine acts of kindness to people in great need can be paid forward to others who will be encountering someone like Richard. What Natalie showed is a gift and a good opening to many others who will hopefully do the same.
It is timely that in the spirit of Thanksgiving season, bus driver from Milwaukee, Natalie Barnes, was lauded for her heartwarming gesture.
Watch the full video here: