RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – This week to pay it forward, we have to go back two decades, to the day a homeless teenager received a home cooked meal in Richmond's Monroe Park. That teenager is now all grown up, a college graduate, working for a major insurance company. He now takes his family to the park to help the homeless, and to pay it forward to the man who showed him an Act of Kindness.
The line automatically starts forming every Sunday afternoon around 3.
"On average 60 to 100 people show up," said Nathan Everson.
After 26 years, folk are familiar with Sam's full course feast.
"They call him Sam the chicken man," Nathan said. "I first met him when was a teenager, when I was living on streets. I didn't have anywhere to go and some of the homeless shelters in the area turned me away. They said if you want something to eat on Sunday, just go down to Monroe Park and Sam the chicken man will give you something to eat and he was there and he did feed me."
That was 24 years ago; Nathan Everson now has a home, a wife and kids. Last year a mention of his past sparked an opportunity to serve.
"I found out about him still being there through somebody at church and I said that's just wonderful he's still down there doing that, maybe I can go down there and help out. Mr. Sam's definitely a great guy. He's there every Sunday without fail, he hasn't missed a day," Nathan explained. "He cooks all the food in his little apartment. He lives in little apartment off of Maury Street, cooks all the food the day before, the day of. He doesn't have his own transportation, he relies on people like myself, my wife and other people who volunteer to help out at Monroe Park."
Last year Sam and church volunteers took the homeless out of the park for a food field trip.
"Take a homeless person to lunch day at Golden Corral. A lunch where they could sit down with real silverware at a real table, wash their hands before they eat, just the little things you and I might take for granted. The outpouring of support was tremendous," said Nathan.
Nathan and Sam Hope are now seeking funds, sponsors for a second homeless lunch outing in December.
"$100, $200, $300 to pay it forward," said Sabrina.
Nathan and Judy plan to supplement the cash with a car that belonged to Judy's deceased dad.
"My wife Judy said why don't we give that to Sam and let him use it, I said that's a great idea," Nathan said. "I hope he can use this money to maybe get some insurance, pay for the gas that he needs, just get kind of started with his own transportation."
We head out to deliver the good news. Sam is waiting out front to greet his friends.
SABRINA: "Mr. Sam. We're with channel 12. You're our Act of Kindness recipient and we're honored to meet you."
SAM: "You deserve a hug for doing this, thank you very much."
NATHAN: "Mr. Sam, this money's for you. I want to thank you very much for what you've done for our community, for myself, for the devotion that you have to these people in Monroe Park, it's an unmatched devotion. It's appreciated by me and I know it's appreciated by them Mr. Sam, thank you."
SAM: "Yes and I am thankful to be able to go to the park every Sunday because it's a great need out there, I like to be there and help them in every way I can. It's a pleasure and it's a joy to be able to do this in Jesus name."
Sam's grateful for the all the friends he's met along the way.