SPRINGFIELD — A local act of kindness is getting national attention.
Waiter Joe Thomas was seen helping a woman with Huntington’s disease eat her meal at an IHOP. His actions were caught on camera and have since gone viral.
With more than 10,000 likes on Facebook, Thomas says he feels like a celebrity but, more importantly, he hopes, after people see and hear his story, they’ll follow in his footsteps.
“So, I got two sweet teas and one ice coffee, coming right up.”
Helping people comes natural to Joe Thomas. After working at IHOP for more than a decade, he says the best part of his day is the customers.
“Really treat this place like I’m at home. I wouldn’t consider this being a job. This is a home-away-from-home.”
One day, Thomas was caught on camera doing a simple act of kindness. He’s pictured feeding a disabled women.
On the left is her husband who, on any other day, would be in Thomas’ seat helping her eat breakfast. But on this day, Thomas decided it was his turn to step up.
“Everybody’s talking about the photo and I was like, well, it’s just something I do. It’s nothing that I think about. It’s something I do. I was just like, I’m a man with a heart. That’s it.”
People who’ve been coming to IHOP for years say seeing Thomas lend a helping hand is typical.
“To do something like that, it makes your heart feelgood. I wish there were more people just like him. This world would be a nicer place.”
Thomas says being recognized is great, but he says the motivation behind the act of kindness is simple.
“I mean, it doesn’t matter if they’re old, young, white, black, it just doesn’t matter. Just do it. What’s so hard about taking a few seconds out of your time to walk someone across the street or, if you see an elderly person drop something, what’s wrong with bending down and picking it up and giving it to them?”
Thomas says, at the end of the day, he remembers what his parents instilled in him years ago: Treat others how you want to be treated.
“Pay it forward. That’s all. Just pay it forward. You see somebody that needs some help? Don’t think about it. Just do it.”
Caring for others comes naturally to Thomas. He used to work in a rehabilitation center for about a year.