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Retiree helps homeless man get a second chance, sparking lifelong friendship

Not everyone has the gift of compassion and selflessness. While some people just ignore the homeless, Scott Kuczmarski went out of his comfort zone to help a homeless man who eventually became his best friend.

After reading Dalai Lama’s “The Art of Happiness,” Kuczmarski realized that helping others is a great way to attain happiness. He started giving out water to homeless people and didn’t have any more plans beyond that.

However, everything changed when he met a homeless man on the street of Palto  Alto in California.

Scott and Robert smiling to the camera

Source: Scott Kuczmarski

Robert Pineda is a 50-year-old man who had been homeless for 32 years. Kuczmarski noticed him when he was riding a bike with all his possessions.

He was all smiles, not bothered by the difficult situation he was in. Kuczmarski felt ashamed of himself because he tends to frown over little things while this homeless man keeps smiling regardless of his situation.

“What the heck is wrong with me, grouchy for no reason, when [Pineda] just got up from the street with everything he owns on that bike and he’s got no brakes?” Kuczmarski said.

He then approached Pineda and talked to him over coffee. He learned a lot about him and his family. He realized that even though they live in different places and they have different lives, they have lots of things in common.

Scott sleeps on the street with Robert

Source: Scott Kuczmarski

When Kuczmarski went back to his home in Rhode Island, he kept in touch with Pineda through email and Facebook. They talked a lot and shared stories, which made them even closer.

Kuczmarski went back to California to see his son but he also wanted to help his new friend.

Kuczmarkski also lived with depression and anxiety and has a brother with bipolar disorder. This is why he easily noticed the indications of mental problems in Pineda.

To show Pineda that he truly cared about him, Kuczmarkski spent the night with him on the street.

Scott helps Robert build his home

Source: Scott Kuczmarski

The next day, they immediately went to Peninsula Center to have Pineda checked. He was diagnosed with symptoms of schizophrenia and was prescribed medicine for his illness.

Kuczmarkski’s next goal was to find a home for Pineda. Though their house-hunting journey got a little challenging, they found the perfect home for Pineda in Rhode Island.

It is a small cabin in Foster, which is only an hour away from Kuczmarkski’s home. They built the home together and make use of Pineda’s expertise in carpentry.

Now that Pineda lives close to Kuczmarski’s home, their friendship even flourished. They hang out a lot and play golf together. Pineda also spends time with Kuczmarski’s family and is always present at all their gatherings and celebrations.

Source: Scott Kuczmarski

Kuczmarski’s goal of helping his friend start a new life has come true and now, he aims to help break the stigma of homelessness.

A lot of people look down on homeless people instead of helping them. He also believes that giving them food is not enough. They also need social connections with other people.

“I would like people to make connections with the homeless. Get out of the car, say ‘Hi, my name is Scott. What’s yours? What brings you to this corner?’ and just listen,” Kuczmarski said.

Scott and Robert with a puppy

Source: Scott Kuczmarski

As the only person who sincerely helped Pineda and befriended him for the last ten years, Kuczmarski deserves to be lauded as a hero who changed a homeless man’s life forever.

He didn’t just help Pineda get his life back together but he also gave him the most wonderful gift –an exceptional and beautiful friendship.  

To learn more about this amazing story, watch the video below:

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