Sometimes, no matter how desperate things can seem, a small act of kindness can make all the difference. Take this story, originally published by Love What Matters, for example.

Image credits: jeanah.nomelli

One fateful day, 14 years ago, Jeanah Nomelli came across Will Levens scrabbling through a dumpster looking for recyclables. Will was at rock bottom at the time, hopelessly addicted to drugs after the tragic death of his wife, homeless, jobless and destitute.

She helped him out in what little way that she could, and they became friends.

Jeanah could quite easily have ignored Will, seeing him as yet another lost soul who had fallen through the cracks of society. But she saw through his shabby, unkempt exterior and found that he had a heart of gold, and he deserved a second chance at life.

The heartwarming little tale of redemption touched thousands of people, having been shared more than 23K times and starting conversations about kindness, empathy and the humane treatment of people that may be struggling with addiction issues.

Jeanah is a paramedic, and addiction is something that, sadly, she encounters all too often. “Dealing with homelessness and addiction is part of our DAILY routine in Stanislaus County,” she told Bored Panda.

“I have always been an advocate for humanity. I believe we have a unique opportunity to share positivity and love during our trip to the ER- no matter who the patient is. I regularly remind addicts that they have a place in the world and encourage them to see themselves as mentors for those also struggling with addiction.”

“Unfortunately, my family has been plagued with addiction. It’s because of them that I have the gift of seeing the human behind the addiction. My advice is one of hope. Never give up. See yourself through our Creator’s eyes. You are worthy of life- because you are still breathing. Live your purpose- no matter the struggle along the way!”

Image credits: Will Levens

Jeanah and Will plan to keep in touch from now on and renew the friendship they once had. For anyone interested in Will’s full story, there is more on the way. “I am going to help him make a video sharing his personal journey, from dumpster to today,” Jeanah told us. “It’s easier for him to speak his story rather than write it.”

What do you think? Do we show enough empathy and understanding toward homeless people? Do you know anybody struggling with addiction issues? Does the current system of criminalizing addiction and homelessness really work? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Here’s what people had to say about the wholesome story