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Man Teaches Homeless Woman to Read During His Lunch Breaks


How often do you stop and greet familiar faces on your morning commute?

A man from downtown Orlando not only introduced himself to a homeless woman he passes every day on his way to work, but set time aside to teach her how to read.

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Greg Smith, 25, is an account executive by day and personal trainer by night, but one Tuesday around lunchtime, an appointment was canceled and Smith found he had some spare time on his hands.

He happened to cross paths with a woman he believed to be homeless. Smith said that he walks by her nearly every morning on his way to work, and although other homeless people often ask him for change, this woman would compliment his suit, notice his haircut and wish him a good day, he said.

"I wonder how many people have asked her how she's doing, or told her to have a good day. I wonder when was the last time she ate," Smith told InsideEdition.com.

Smith then introduced himself and she told him her name was Amy Joe. He invited her to join him at a Mexican restaurant nearby.

Smith said she was shy, and even though she only spoke about herself briefly, he invited her to lunch the following Tuesday, until they soon decided to make it a regular event.

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"Third time we met, she let me know that she struggled with reading," Smith said. He even wrote on his Facebook that what little money she had for food, she spent on library books.

Smith said Amy Joe has been trying to learn to read on her own but was having a hard time accessing her local public library. He said she doesn't have ID or proof of residence to sign up for a library card, and feels she stands out when sitting among students and children at the library.

So Smith introduced her to a book of his own: Beyond Belief, a biography about baseball star Josh Hamilton.

"She's not completely illiterate -- she knows some," Smith said, explaining that even though she might recognize a word, she has a hard time comprehending the story in its entirety.

"She's really smart. She has a great imagination. She can picture things," Smith told IE.com. "It's just words -- sometimes she doesn't know the meaning of the words."

Smith said that the pair has come up with a strategy to tackle that weak spot: he reads a sentence, she repeats it, and then Smith will ask her after they have completed a paragraph: "What does that mean to you?"

After one of their meetings, Smith wrote a Facebook post recounting what had happened. Little did he know that the short post and picture would be shared all over the world.

One person commented: "There truly are lots of Amy Joe's in this world and just helping the ones we have in our own lives would make such a difference to that one person."

"When I worked downtown I would stop and speak with her every morning...such a sweet soul! Thank you for making a difference in her life and the lives of those of which you share this experience," one woman commented.

Inspired by all the support, Smith decided to create a GoFundMe page, where he hopes to raise money to help Amy Joe obtain her own library card, and even channel efforts into a non-profit in her name.

Smith said he has not quite come up with a complete plan for the money since the campaign's conception only two days ago, even though strangers from around the world have already donated more than $2,000 to the cause.

But Smith said he hopes the efforts will inspire compassion in others, asking "Who is your Amy Joe?" in his campaign.

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