Tyler Perry reflects on helping a homeless woman with AIDS

From Tyler Perry:
writer and actor

This morning I awoke and was so frustrated about all of the stuff that I’m dealing with in trying to get this studio open. I was about to open my mouth and start complaining when I remembered something that happened to me about a year ago.

I was walking to my car when this woman who appeared to be homeless started walking towards me. I’m ashamed to say this but I thought, “I don’t feel like being hustled today.” Then I got quickly convicted. I felt guilty so I started digging in my pocket for some money. As she got closer I noticed that she had the kindest eyes that I had ever seen. As I was reaching into my pocket she started to speak. I thought, “Here goes the sales pitch”. She said “Excuse me sir, I need some shoes. Can you help me?” My eyes filled with water because I remember being out on the streets a nd having only one pair of run over shoes. I was taken aback for a second.

I took her inside the studio and had my wardrobe people find shoes in her size. As she put the shoes on she started crying, praising God and thanking Jesus, and saying, “My feet are off the ground! My feet are off the ground!” Several of the wardrobe people started crying. I was crying. But I never forgot those words. “My feet are off the ground!” I thought, “Wow! All she wanted was some shoes.” She quickly disappeared and never asked me for a dime. I realized that I still had the money in my hand so I went out looking for her. She was gone just that quick so I looked all around the neighborhood for her. I found her standing on a corner looking down at her shoes, still crying. I was so touched. I asked her how she had gotten homeless. She told me that she had AIDS and that she was waiting to get into a shelter. She said that her family had turned their backs on her and that she had no place to go, bu t she knew that God would make a way for her. I said to myself, “He just did.” Her faith and her praise moved me. I took her to a nearby hotel and put her up until she was able to get on her feet. I had someone that worked for me to check on her from time to time and to make sure that she had food and clothes. After about a month or so we lost touch, but I never forgot her.

This past summer I was shooting “Daddy’s Little Girls” and this woman walks up to me smiling. I didn’t recognize her face, but her eyes were familiar. She had on a really nice dress and her hair was done. It was her! She told me that the little help that I had given her had changed her life. She was in a house now and doing very well.

I said all of that to say this. After I met this woman, every time I think about complaining and mumbling I remember, “My feet are off the ground!”

I wanted to share this with you just to let you know that when I say that I am thankful for you, I mean it. An d when I say that you are a blessing to me, I mean it. We take so much for granted sometimes that I just wanted all of you to know that I am grateful to God for you everyday. Thank you for being in my life.

~Tyler Perry

6 Responses to “Tyler Perry reflects on helping a homeless woman with AIDS”

  1. August 8, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    wow… what a story.
    you know, tyler perry gets a lot of attention for being so funny, but this is a man on a mission with a message for the world. i have great respect for what he does… VERY talented and VERY passionate.
    great article….

  2. October 17, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    That’s really touching. Wow. I think this man is great to be so upfront about things like that. I was sitting here kinda emotional about it all. Much success to this brotha.

  3. January 23, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Hello, my name is Thelma Burke and I am on a mission too! I am a only child, and God Blessed me to have a set on twins (10 years old). I am reaching out to you because I have a calling for helping people and I know that God wants me to help these young hopeless women with disabilities mental or physical. They need a place where they may go with or without children to receive the oppurtunity to acheive a motivating spritit that God wants them to desire. My homeless shelter is greared toward women with HIV, and also women without, mainly just women who want stability in there life and do not know how to go about acomplishing it. Something like a transitional housing to help women in assisting with personal finance planning and setting personal goals. My homeless shelter is called Aspire because that is my mission and soul purpose!Thank you and God continue to bless abundantly!

  4. 4 cecilia omondi okana
    March 7, 2008 at 6:14 am

    Hii Thelma Burke,

    i am now reading your story which is pleasing to hear your mission for us women. I am a kenyan woman aged 32 years. I am HIV positive and i have 3 children. When i learned of my HIV Status i told my husband whom i have been married to for 8 years, he decided to leave me for another woman. life has turned upside down for me. i have children who want to go to school and be done for everything. at the moment i am employed as a casual laborer which pays very little and is not able to sustain me in paying for our food, shelter since we live in a rental house in one of the estates in nairobi. life has become very expensive. sometimes i even go to hospital and dont get the drugs and so i am told to buy which becomes abit hard for me. things are not working well for me since i dont have anyone to turn to coz my parents died when we were still little babies. at the moment i have been living on borrowing which has acrued to about 30,000/= including rent which i have not paid for some months. this is because the doctors say you have just to eat well and eating well means to have money.
    i was wondering if you can help me. you can reach me through my e-mail no. cecie006@yahoo.com.
    thank you and God bless you.

  5. August 16, 2008 at 6:54 am

    TYLER PERRY God bless you. and to cecilia,take heart,pray without ceasing for it’s darkest just b4 dawn,dont give up,we prayin for u.

  6. October 13, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Dear Mr. Perry,

    I would like to ask your permission to share this story with the students in my HIV Disease: A Human Concern Class at the University of Central Florida. As I read it I got goose bumps. I am an adoptive mother of two daughters, one of whom [the 11 year old] is HIV positive. I would like to think that if she ever needed help after I am gone [I’m 62], that there will be more people like you around to lend a helping hand.

    Each fall my students in the live section of the course, host a Christmas party for children in the Orlando area who are HIV positive and their siblings. They fund raise all the money for the arts and crafts, entertainment, games, food and presents that are given to each child. I am hoping to develop a new generation of students who will learn to pay it forward.

    Please feel free to write to me at the email address I provided and tell me if you have any problem with me using this story in my class.

    Thank you so much.

    Sharon Douglass
    Associate Professor

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