An Act of Kindness Creates Ripples: How a Homeless Man Turned his Life Around Thanks to One Selfless Act

We’re all familiar with the feelings of shame and guilt overcoming us whenever we walk by a person living on the street. We’re overwhelmed with pity, but don’t know if this person even wants our help. When this New York Jogger walked by Joe Arroyo holding a desperate cardboard sign, he didn’t hesitate and gave him the shoes off his feet. This simple act of kindness created ripples, and it completely changed the life of this hopeless man.


To give or not to give?

Whenever we pass a person sitting or sleeping on the street, we have this inner debate of whether or not to give him money, mostly because we don’t know what he’ll use this money for.

The easiest thing to do, then, is do nothing. That’s why most of us just keep walking. However, sometimes this simple deed of kindness can mean the world to this person.

Joe’s story

Joe Arroyo was living on the streets of New York. All it took was one person and an act of compassion for Joe to have the motivation to change his life. He shared his inspiring story on an interview with Eyewitness News.

Joe was sitting in his usual corner with a sign reading ‘I’m homeless, I’m hungry and my shoes have holes in them’. He was hoping to raise the money to buy a new pair of shoes.

The invisible people

Seeing a man living on the streets with a cardboard sign like this one is not an unusual sight on the streets of New York. In fact, it’s so common, that we tend not to see these people anymore. However, this time something about Joe caught the eye of this anonymous jogger.

Joe, living on the streets for years, has thought he’s already seen everything. He didn’t expect to be surprised as he was at the act of this stranger.

Sharing his bliss

A jogger passed by him during his run and noticed the sign and the holes in Joe’s shoes. He approached him and said, “I’ve been blessed my whole life, God has been very nice to me,” and he felt like this was his opportunity to pass this blessing to someone else.

Without second thought, he took off his shoes and gave them to his homeless man, a complete stranger, and proceeded his walk barefoot.

Someone filmed it

Incidentally, a woman in a cab across the street happened to stop at a red light right in front of this exchange of kindness. She noticed the jogger and the homeless man talking and decided to take out her phone and film it.

She didn’t know how this interaction would end, of course. Joe, on his end, noticed the woman recording them and suspected that the whole thing was set up by the jogger, to post the video and earn some fame.

A selfless deed

But he soon realized that wasn’t the case. The jogger wasn’t aware of the woman filming them, and he left the spot as soon as his shoes were off his feet.

It was a complete coincidence that the woman happened to stop by at this moment and take out her phone, and the jogger’s act was a genuine, selfless act of kindness.

The witness

The woman who witnessed the event and filmed it said that when she first saw the interaction between the men, she thought the jogger was taking off his shoes because he had money in his socks.

She was awed by his surprising deed, and decided to share her admiration online, and so she immediately posted the video on Twitter.

Inspiration for the masses

People use social media for gossip and slander, and thus we’re used to seeing mostly bad news on social media. This woman wanted to spread some hope and inspiration for a change.

Naturally, the video went viral. It’s not everyday that you see someone taking off his shoes in the middle of the street and giving them to a complete stranger.

Turning his life around

After the video was published, Joe was interviewed for Eyewitness News. In the interview, he admitted that he was trying to change his life and was waiting for the right opportunity.

He said that he was looking for a job, and was willing to work hard and do whatever it takes to succeed: “if you gave me a chance, I’ll be the best worker you have.”


The jogger remains anonymous, but his act was what triggered the change in Joe’s life. The woman at the red light also had something to do with it, since her video gave Joe the exposure he needed.

Joe also admitted in the interview that he was so grateful for the jogger, he wanted to hug him. But, “a homeless man hugging someone out here is not normal.” There are certain rules for these kinds of communications.

His big break

This interview wasn’t in vain, and as it turns out, the right person heard it. Andrew Zurica, a successful entrepreneur, happened to see the interview. Perhaps he was also inspired by the jogger’s act, and he decided he wanted to pass his blessings to someone as well.

He reached out to Joe immediately after seeing this. The two met and clicked, and Zurica offered him a job.

Meant to be

Andrew Zurica turned out to be Joe’s guardian angel, and it almost seems as if the two were destined to meet. Zurica and Joe later learned that they have a lot in common.

Before he became a successful entrepreneur and conquered the food scene of New York, Zurica had a rough childhood, which is what made him sympathize with Joe.

A rough childhood

When he was thirteen, Zurica’s father was locked up, and since then he spent his childhood hustling in the streets. He also had a few encounters with the law, and was arrested for several years after being involved in a crime.

Zurica knows what it’s like living on the street and losing hope. He also realized that some people can create themselves from scratch, as he did, while others might need a gentle push to get started.

Hard Times

Zurica was touched by Joe’s words and sympathized with him. He was once in his shoes – he was living on the streets and had nothing but a dream of turning his life around.

Luckily for Zurica, he managed to make his dream come true. He started with a simple food truck called “Hard Times Sundaes,” which became a sensation around New York, and later turned into a chain of eateries. Today it’s known as one of America’s best eateries.

Second chances

Since Zurica recognized his own story in Joe, he knew that he must be the one to offer him a job and give him the chance to turn his life around.

Joe is only 30 years old, he has his whole life before him. Zurica appreciated the value of second chances, and he immediately recognized Joe’s potential and integrity and gave him the chance that he needed.

Needs a hand

Not only Joe, but Zurica was also waiting for an opportunity like this to give back and share some of his bliss. Thus, when opportunity knocked, he offered Joe a position in any one of his restaurants.

In the interview, Joe said he didn’t want anyone to get him out of the hole, but just throw him a ladder. This is what Zurica did for him, and it wouldn’t have happened hadn’t the interview taken place.

An act of fate

There were a few people involved in the blessed change in Joe’s life, but at the end of the day it all started with a pair of snickers. It’s true what they say – one good deed creates ripples.

Joe wanted to change his life but he didn’t know how to pursue the much desired change. This viral video that prompted the interview gave him the exposure he needed.

Not the only one

Every once in a while an anonymous hero like this jogger pops up. Not too long ago, an act like this one was spotted in Detroit.

A police officer noticed a woman giving a homeless man shaving cream and some hot water, but the man was struggling to shave in the rain without appropriate tools and a mirror. That’s when the police officer approached him and offered him help.

Back on his feet

How lucky it is that the anonymous jogger passed by Joe on this day, and at the very same moment the woman’s cab stopped right across them. It seems as if fate was involved in this incident.

Joe is now working in one of Zurica’s restaurants, and he couldn’t be more grateful. Zurica made a drastic change in his life starting from one food truck, and now it was Joe’s turn.

A good deed

Next time you walk past a person living on the street and hesitate whether or not to give him money, think about this story and how it turned out for Joe Arroyo and Andrew Zurica.

And if you’re still not sure, you can give him a pair of shoes, something to eat or even just a smile. Sometimes that’s enough to do the trick.