Tyler Perry is an international megastar who seems to have the perfect life, but according to Time.com, before he became a famous multimillionaire, Tyler lived in his car on and off for 6 years after using his savings to stage his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed.” After getting his big break, Tyler used his fame and fortune to help those less fortunate, including a homeless woman with AIDS. Here’s his story in his own words:
“I was walking to my car when this woman who appeared to be homeless started walking towards me. I’m ashamed to say this but I thought, “I don’t feel like being hustled today.” Then I got quickly convicted. I felt guilty so I started digging in my pocket for some money. As she got closer I noticed that she had the kindest eyes that I had ever seen. As I was reaching into my pocket she started to speak. I thought, “Here goes the sales pitch”. She said “Excuse me sir, I need some shoes. Can you help me?” My eyes filled with water because I remember being out on the streets and having only one pair of run over shoes. I was taken aback for a second.
I took her inside the studio and had my wardrobe people find shoes in her size. As she put the shoes on she started crying, praising God and thanking Jesus, and saying, “My feet are off the ground! My feet are off the ground!” Several of the wardrobe people started crying. I was crying. But I never forgot those words. “My feet are off the ground!” I thought, “Wow! All she wanted was some shoes.”
She quickly disappeared and never asked me for a dime. I realized that I still had the money in my hand so I went out looking for her. She was gone just that quick so I looked all around the neighborhood for her. I found her standing on a corner looking down at her shoes, still crying. I was so touched. I asked her how she had gotten homeless. She told me that she had AIDS and that she was waiting to get into a shelter.
She said that her family had turned their backs on her and that she had no place to go, but she knew that God would make a way for her. I said to myself, “He just did.” Her faith and her praise moved me. I took her to a nearby hotel and put her up until she was able to get on her feet. I had someone that worked for me to check on her from time to time and to make sure that she had food and clothes. After about a month or so we lost touch, but I never forgot her.
This past summer I was shooting “Daddy’s Little Girls” and this woman walks up to me smiling. I didn’t recognize her face, but her eyes were familiar. She had on a really nice dress and her hair was done. It was her! She told me that the little help that I had given her had changed her life. She was in a house now and doing very well.”
Tyler Perry’s story eloquently echoes the growing homeless crisis in America. According to an article in the Huffington Post, nearly 44 percent of American households don’t have enough savings to cover their basic expenses for three months in the event of a financial emergency like losing a job or paying for unexpected medical care. According to DrPhil.com, 70% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. According to recent online studies, one-third of Americans are a paycheck away from being homeless.
Determined to help families in crisis, Lorenzo Thomas, a former police officer, and his family founded Glimmers of Hope Inc., a 501c3 non-profit organization in 2007 in order to strengthen struggling families and individuals facing homelessness and poverty. The organization has worked with hundreds of low-income and homeless families in their community and continues to provide food, clothing and other necessities to those in need. “We truly felt compelled to found our organization because far too often, people ignore the homeless because they believe in the stereotype that most of them are drug and alcohol addicts who are looking for handouts, or that they are people that choose to live on the street and refuse to work, but there are countless people living on the street who lost their jobs and couldn’t receive unemployment benefits. There are a lot of people who lost their homes due to foreclosures and there are people who are disabled or gravely ill who cannot afford to pay for a place to live,” says Charla Mackey, the president of Glimmers of Hope Inc.
“Tyler’s story is phenomenal because it reaffirms the power of giving back. Although homelessness and poverty is running rampant in our communities, if we just help one person in need and show them compassion, we are doing our part to create opportunities for someone else who seemingly has no hope. If we share our resources and teach people skills on becoming financially empowered, we can definitely win the war on poverty and create hope for the future,” says Florence Edwards, a board member and publicist for Glimmers of Hope Inc.
Find out more about Glimmers of Hope Inc. and their campaign to end the cycle of poverty by clicking here or sending an e-mail to Florence@Publicity911.com.