Posse Positive Person of the Week: Homeless Man Returns Engagement Ring and Receives Kindness in Return – Would You Have Kept the Ring?
Every now and then you hear stories that restore your faith in mankind.
That’s what I’d like to do every week.
Give this space to a person or people that have done something out of the ordinary giving us hope that all is not lost.
You may have heard this story, but if not, it will surely bring you up.
A homeless guy panhandling was the unwitting recipient of an engagement ring when he looked into his change cup.
Now you’d think he’d have pawned the ring and that would be the end of story.
Nope, not this guy.
He returned the ring to its rightful owner, and because his story traveled far and wide, he is now the beneficiary of quite a few dollars more than the ring would have cost.
When Kansas City homeless man Billy Ray Harris returned Sarah Darling’s engagement ring last month after she accidentally dropped it in his cup, it could have been the end of the story.
Instead, the experience has changed his life.
In the weeks since his good deed went viral, Harris has gained national attention, and supporters have raised over $175,000 for him to find a new home.
Something even more valuable happened: Harris is back in touch with his family, from whom he was estranged for the last 16 years.
Amid the media storm around the engagement ring episode, Robin Harris, Billy Ray’s younger sister, happened to come across an article about her brother, and reached out to the local news station that first reported the story for help tracking him down.
Robin, who still lives in Texas where the family grew up, said she made repeated efforts to find her brother over the years, but had heard varying reports about his whereabouts, and was even once told that he had died.
When she was finally able to connect with him on the phone last month, the siblings had a long and emotional conversation to catch up on the last decade and a half.
The two now talk on the phone almost daily, and Robin has helped him get back in touch with their three other siblings, as well as his numerous nieces and nephews — some of whom he didn’t even know existed.
He says he never stopped thinking about his family, though he had assumed he wouldn’t see them again.
Now doing some work as a roadie for a local jazz band, Harris is no longer sleeping on the street. He’s been staying in the basement of one of the band members, and is getting his identification documents straightened out so that he can open a bank account to access the donations people have raised for him. He hopes to use the funds to buy an apartment and fly back to Texas to see his family.
Robin can’t wait to see her brother, and hopes he’ll consider moving in with her.
As for the woman whose ring he returned, Darling says she and her husband Bill have become close to Harris, and hope to stay in touch with him in the long run. She launched the donations page for Harris, and regularly has dinner with him and has been helping him navigate the paperwork to get his life back in order.
While all the attention has been a little exhausting, Harris says he’s excited about what the future holds, and thankful the experience has led him back to his siblings.