In case you missed this in this beautiful bit of news over the past couple of weeks of dumpster fire, Candice Payne is THE BEST HUMAN EVER.
Candice is a real estate investor and broker in Chicago who has the biggest heart on this planet. When the historic winter blast came for Chicago, Candice knew that she had to do something to help people who were stuck on the streets. She made the snap decision to put 30 hotel rooms on her credit card in an effort to get some people out of the horrific weather. Here are her own words from an NPR interview:
PAYNE: Oh, man, so I actually called my employees and told them they don’t have to come in the next day because it was going to be freezing. And I don’t want…
SIMON: Yeah. You’re in the real estate business I gather, right?
PAYNE: I am in the real estate business. I’m a real estate investor. But as I laid there in bed about to watch some TV and have a glorious day, what happens is I got to thinking. And I told my husband – and I said, you know what? Let’s go rent 20 hotel rooms. And he said, that’s fine, but how are we going to get all these people to these hotel rooms? And so I went on social media and I posted, hey, I’m renting 20 hotel rooms for the homeless. If anyone has a van or a passenger van that will help me transport the homeless to the hotel, I’ll pay you. And it went completely viral. It allowed us to go from 20 rooms to 59 rooms for four nights. And I’m at the hotel now, and there are still – people are just pulling up now trying to give donations to pay for more nights.
Her efforts not only gave people a safe place to stay, but they also provided toiletries, meals, and helped replace items that people lost in relocating. The support that poured in to help these folks is what shows me that we can solve the homeless and displacement problem that so many people are facing in this country. This is not a long-term solution, but there are enough of us who care to work toward the goal of catching people before they fall into this situation.
I speak to so many students who have had ONE small thing happen that has completely disrupted their lives and resulted in their loss of housing. Sometimes, it is something as small as being short $200 and getting evicted. That should never happen. I just hired a student who lost her housing halfway through the semester because a parent lost their job and could no longer provide any money for her living expenses. She had not filed the necessary paperwork for financial aid by the deadline (because she was not aware she would need it), but suddenly could not afford the residence halls. Thankfully, she asked for help and we have been able to support her with our institutional resources so that she did not have to live in her car or drop out. So many people are one financial hardship away from losing everything, and it is not because they are lazy or from a lack of trying. Sometimes life just kicks you in the face.
Back to Candice. She also started a non-profit for several years ago called “Action for a Cause” to support the displaced and homeless in her city. You can support that effort here. I love Candice’s quote about how we can all work together to do better for those needing support: “I am a regular person. It all sounded like a rich person did this, but I’m just a little black girl from the South Side. I thought it was unattainable, but after seeing this and seeing people from all around the world, that just tells me that it’s not that unattainable. We can all do this together.”
Here is a video about their efforts:
*INSERT WEEPING* Imagine if we had political leaders who thought like Candice Payne? In a time where we are faced with a daily barrage of hateful rhetoric and further attempts to marginalize and disenfranchise vulnerable populations, Candice is a hero.