Hospice nurse Paula Picard doesn’t usually take photos of strangers. But while shopping at the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside in Holyoke, Massachusetts, on Thursday, June 15, she saw a heartwarming act of kindness she wanted to share with her Facebook friends. “We all need reminders that good people and good things happen around us,” Picard tells Us Weekly.
Alonzo Johnson didn’t know anyone was watching when he stopped to help an 83-year-old man who was hesitating to go down an escalator. “He looked very afraid and I thought maybe I could help,” Johnson, 23, tells Us. So Johnson offered his arm.
It was in that instant that Picard snapped a picture. “The older man was paused at the top of an escalator and a few people started gathering waiting to get on,” Picard wrote in a Facebook post published on Thursday, June 15. “It was clear he was feeling unsure and this young man offered the simplest kindness: an out-reached arm and a ‘can I help you on, sir?’ He quietly started to explain to the young man that he had gotten stuck on an escalator once and was a little scared. The young man gently offered an assurance, they looked at each other eye to eye for just a moment and the older man accepted his arm. Everyone else remained patient. SO, so sweet to witness.”
Picard continued: “In about an hour, the evening news will air and we’ll be reminded of division, race wars, political mud-slinging, shootings and other heartaches. But today, violence, race, age, politics and other social lines were blurred and one person simple helped another.”
Her post has received more than 418,000 likes, nearly 200,000 shares — and praise from Johnson’s mother. “My mom always tells us to be nice and do the right thing, you never know who’s watching,” he told Mass Live. “It’s really the way I was brought up and how I was raised.”
Johnson, who works at Stop and Shop, but is in the process of training to work with child and family services, hopes his gesture kindness will inspire others. He tells Us: “Such a simple act can really make a change.”