A video of a Wisconsin bus driver offering comfort and support to a homeless passenger last month is warming hearts across the internet.
Bus driver Natalie Barnes of the Milwaukee County Transit System was behind the wheel on a chilly Saturday night when a man named Richard boarded the bus.
Richard, who Barnes has met on her bus before, rode the transit line until they got to the end of her route. Barnes then used her break to strike up a conversation with Richard. As they chatted, Richard told her that the house he had been living in was condemned. For a week, he had been homeless and sleeping on the streets.
Heartbroken by his predicament, Barnes said he could ride her bus so he wouldn’t have to be out in the cold. When they reached one of her layover stops, she offered to get him something to eat.
“Now I don’t know what to say but to say thank you,” Richard told the compassionate driver, insisting that he would pay her back – but she declined, saying “I want to help you.”
At her next break, Barnes contacted a friend at Community Advocates to see if they could offer him some help. Thankfully, they were able to get Richard into temporary shelter and they are now working to find him permanent housing.
MCTS recently published video footage of the emotional exchange to their website, praising Barnes for her kindness. According to the transit group, this is Barnes’s third time being honored for exemplary behavior on the job. The mother-of-three often brings peanut butter and jelly sandwiches onto her bus so she can give them to passengers who might need something to eat.
“Natalie’s kindness, compassion and respect for this man in need are what MCTS Excellence is all about,” said County Executive Chris Abele.
“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.”
Barnes, however, is humble about the incident.
“At some point in our lives, everybody needs help,” said Barnes. “I wanted to do what I could to help Richard in some way.”
(WATCH the video below) – Photo by MCTS
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