The 29-year-old police officer said, "God put it on my heart to get her lunch. So I turned around and I asked her, 'Hey, did you eat today?' And she said, 'No.'"
Officer Michael Rivers has been working with the Goldsboro Police Department in North Carolina for almost a decade now. Over his tenure, Rivers has become pretty familiar with the homeless people in his community. But, on Wednesday, he met a homeless woman he had never seen before. What caught Rivers' eye is the t-shirt this woman was wearing. It read, "Homeless. The fastest way of becoming a nobody."
The windows were down in his car and when they made eye contact, both of them acknowledged each other with a simple, "Hey" and Rivers drove away. But something kept poking him and tugged him to go back. In a conversation with CNN, the 29-year-old officer said, "God put it on my heart to get her lunch. So I turned around and I asked her, 'Hey, did you eat today?' And she said, 'No.'" After getting to know this, Rivers bought pepperoni and cheese pizzas from a nearby pizza shop and sat down to have lunch with the woman. The two spent the next 45 minutes together and Rivers said it was one of the most memorable conversations he had in his life. The pizza they shared was great but the conversation Rivers had with this woman will stay with him for a long time to come.
The homeless woman, who identified herself as Michelle, shared her life stories with Rivers and the heartwarming moment was captured in a photo by a passerby and her husband shared it on Facebook. Chris Barnes posted the pictures with the caption that read, "Law enforcement does so much for our community, with a lot of it going unnoticed. We see you Goldsboro P.D. Keep up the good work." His post quickly went viral and has garnered more than 5000 shares and 3500 comments from people all over the world.
As the two started talking, Michelle told Rivers she has a 12-year-old daughter who is suffering from liver disease and is currently placed in foster care. She also has a 23-year-old son and her husband, who is also homeless. After they finished their lunch, they went their separate ways, but Rivers said that Michelle's story has impacted him deeply and realized that he and Michelle were similar in terms of how they are perceived by society.
Rivers also added that he feels police officers are often portrayed in society as 'bad apples'. Rivers said, "I come to work and my method is, 'Who can I bless today? Who can I make smile? I'm not the one that wants to take somebody's father or mother away and put them in jail." Police Chief Michael West said he saw the post gaining popularity on Facebook and congratulated Rivers on his gesture. West said, "The circumstances around our job are often an unpleasant call to service, but this picture just shows we're human like anyone else and any chance we get to serve the community and help people, we take that chance. I'm very fortunate to have Officer Rivers in our department."