“It was 9 a.m. in the [World Trade Center] area,” the tweet said. “I watched as a jogger took off his sneakers, gave them to a homeless man and walked the NYC streets barefoot.”
The homeless man, identified as Joe Arroyo, 30, spoke to ABC News station WABC-TV in New York on Wednesday about that random act of kindness in lower Manhattan.
“I was sitting here with a sign, saying that I’m homeless and hungry and that my shoes, that they’re broken. … He was jogging from down the block. He just saw me and stopped,” Arroyo said. “I never thought somebody would just come out and take their shoes off and just give them to me.”
Arroyo told WABC-TV that the jogger, whom he did not know, had walked by and noticed that he had holes on the bottom of his sneakers. Arroyo told the news station what the stranger said to him.
“[He said], ‘I’ve been blessed pretty much my whole life. God has been very nice to me. … Feels like I should bless you too. Here, take my shoes.’ And, he took them off and gave them to me. I was surprised. … It was something from the heart. … I wanted to...hug the guy or something but then a homeless man hugging somebody is not normal out here.”
During the interview, Arroyo said that although he’d been living on the streets for years, he was looking for a job and open to any opportunity offered to him.
That's when Andrew Zurica stepped in. Zurica had seen the TV piece and wanted to help Arroyo. Zurica, the owner of Hard Times Sundaes, started with a food truck and now owns three additional eateries — Andrew’s Roadside Classic Burger, Brooklyn Bagel and Luncheonette.
He said he also knew about hitting hard times and second chances at life; in the 1990s, Zurica went to prison for four years for international drug trafficking, according to WABC-TV. When he got out, he created Hard Times Sundaes and the rest is history.
“If we could figure out a way to get you a job and get you active, I have openings in three of my restaurants, where we’d be happy to have you,” he told Arroyo when they met Thursday. “The one thing that makes me happy is being able to be in a position where I can give back and help people in some way.”
Arroyo told WABC-TV that before that meeting with Zurica he’d been losing hope.
“I was in a hole,” he said. “I didn’t want nobody to pick me up out of the hole. [All] I needed somebody to do is just throw a ladder and I would climb out myself. This [is] the ladder. … This is more than a blessing right now.”