9. Elijah Arnold
In October 2017, a thief entered an IHOP in San Antonio, Texas, with a gun. He fired two shots in the air, threatening to kill anyone who tried to stop him. He started prying open the cash register with a crowbar, and in that moment when the gun was not in his hands, a 22-year-old employee named Elijah Arnold tackled him to the ground and clung onto the thief’s legs as he tried to crawl away. The robber hit Arnold in the face with the crowbar, which broke his nose, spreading blood everywhere. Arnold, however, had a black belt in karate, so he knew exactly how to detain the criminal long enough for the police to arrive.
Arnold only gets paid $2.50 an hour, plus tips. Why would he risk his life for his job? He’s homeless, and his job is all he’s got. After living in foster care his entire life, Elijah went straight to working. He lives in his beat-up car that he parks at a 24-hour Walmart and goes to work.
After he potentially saved the lives of everyone in the store, patrons began to walk up to him, handing him money and gift cards as tokens of their gratitude. One of the local news stations interviewed him about this act of bravery. At the end of the segment, they handed him a $1,000 reward. With tears in his eyes, Arnold said that it should be enough to help him find a place to live.
8. Raymond Pates
Veterans of the Vietnam War were not met with parades and joyous reunions when they returned home. Many of them felt empty and had undiagnosed Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Most wondered why they had to witness so much pointless death and destruction. It made it almost impossible for them to integrate back into life in the US. In fact, this is so common that there is a National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
When Raymond Pates completed his draft in Vietnam and returned to Birmingham, Alabama, he started to drink and use drugs to hide from the pain. It got so bad that he became homeless. One day, he started going to church. He asked the pastor if he could get involved with their charity work. By engaging with his community, he was able to find a job at the Social Security Administration. Now in his sixties, Pates still helps to deliver food to homeless people in Birmingham and gives them words of encouragement. “Everyone can be a hero,” he said. “When you see a need, fill it.”