CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – Times are tough and many people need a helping hand and we want to help you help others. Tonight we debut a new segment called "12 on Your Side Acts of Kindness." Each week we'll give $300 to a person wanting to pay it forward to help someone in need. Tonight we meet our first person eager to distribute an Act of Kindness and the person benefiting from that generosity.
We met our Good Samaritan, Robb Coates, at Sycamore Square Shopping Center where he'd dropped his friend, Karen Davison, off at the grocery store.
Sabrina Squire: "You're going to help us kick off some acts of kindness in the community?"
Robb Coates: "That sounds great."
Robb's a local guy who's traveled the country for lots of building projects.
"I'm a construction worker all my life, 26 year brick mason, I grew up out here in Chesterfield," he said.
Now, he's back home and in -between jobs.
"The economy's not like it used to be, so…"
Robb insists he'll be okay; he's more concerned with the welfare of his friend, Karen.
"She needs the help more than I do," said Robb.
Robb says the retiree and grandmother has struggled with serious health and housing problems.
"Basically several years, kind of homeless, living in her car. She needs knee surgery, she's got back problems she's had ongoing for awhile," Robb said. "She's trying to get it together, enough money to get an apartment."
Robb's been helping Karen sort through social security matters, acting he says, as her advocate. Today he's offering a different "Act of Kindness." We help. First, we lay out the rules.
Sabrina Squire: "The rule is you have to give it to someone who's not a family member and you have to do it within an hour, are you up for that?"
Robb Coates: "Sure we can do that real quick."
Sabrina Squire: "Hold out your hand, Robb, we're going to give you 1,2,3 hundred dollars and you're going to give this away?"
Robb Coates: "Yes, I'm going to give this to Karen, she needs it."
Sabrina Squire: "Well, where's Karen?"
Robb Coates: "I got Karen stashed away inside Martin's at the pharmacy, if you'd like to go in, we'll go in and introduce you."
Sabrina Squire: "Alright, we're ready"
Robb Coates: "She's gonna be in for a big surprise."
We make our way inside Martin's, after getting permission from the manager and corporate headquarters, but Karen is nowhere to be found...at first.
Robb Coates: "There she is right there; this is my friend Karen right here."
Sabrina Squire: "Hi, Karen."
Sure enough Karen's surprised and overcome. Robb chokes up too, forgetting the name, "Acts of Kindness", but, he demonstrates.
Karen Davison: "I can't believe it's you."
Robb Coates: "I get to start out the segment by helping you, through them and we're going to present you with 1.2,3 hundred dollars, hope it'll be able to help you."
Karen Davison: "Oh, God bless you, God bless you."
Then, it becomes quite clear that this has less to do with cash and much more to do with caring and connecting.
Karen Davison: "He's been a very, very good friend."
Sabrina Squire: "How so?"
Karen Davison: "In many ways, spiritual, hope, helping me to keep a roof over my head."
Sabrina Squire: "You've had some challenges lately with your housing?"
Karen Davison: Oh yes, I've been homeless, I'm homeless now."
Robb Coates: "It'll come to good use for food, gas, everything, and it's a big help."
Karen reveals she was forced to leave her last place after the rent went up. She's staying with family until she can move someplace affordable. Today she's "moved"...to tears. And we're happy they've embraced the idea of "passing it on."
"It's great to be part of something and to kick it off too, awesome, very first, it's super," said Robb.