Community response to one man’s need forever changes his future outlook

Simon Childs (pictured at left) told his story to WSB-TV reporter Matt Johnson. Below is a photo of Childs sleeping on a bench at McDonald’s between working shifts there. (Images courtesy of WSB-TV)

Fayetteville resident Simon Childs experienced first-hand what a community can do when it is motivated to help a person in need. Along the way, he went from being a man known by few to being known across the Atlanta area and beyond, all because his story resonated with so many people moved by compassion.

It all started in late June when a person posted on Facebook a picture of Childs sleeping on a bench inside the Fayetteville McDonald’s restaurant located at the corner of North Glynn Street and Kathi Avenue. The sentiments posted with the photo in that private Facebook group were negative, but other group members quickly chided the author of the post and rallied to help the young man, who turned out to be going through a rough time in his personal life.

Seven years ago, Childs moved from Chicago, Illinois with his mother to Stockbridge, and then he moved to Fayetteville. He says he recently lost his mother, and for a time he had nowhere to live, so he was sleeping in the restaurant between shifts. At the time, he was working there, earning money to cover his living expenses and trying to earn money to help support his young son.

When Childs learned about the Facebook post, he said he was a bit discouraged, but he didn’t think anyone would really care about his personal plight. He was wrong. When he returned to work for his next shift, people had dropped off diapers and other items for him and his son.
The generosity continued. When the owners of Fayetteville’s The Fusion Chefs Eatery learned about Childs, they offered him a free loaner vehicle to help him get around until he can afford to buy a car.

When the City of Fayetteville caught up with Childs by phone, he was working in a new, better-paying job with the Osmose lumber company as a telephone pole inspector.

“The people here have been amazing,” he said. “I apreciate it.”

Childs story caught the attention of the regional media as well. His initial story and a couple of updates were reported by WSB-TV’s Matt Johnson, who says the story was personally heartwarming for him.

Johnson said he is a member of that Facebook group and saw the initial photo of Childs sleeping on the bench.

“When I saw that someone had actually gone to the McDonalds to speak to Simon and find out about the recent loss of his mother, and his homeless status, it was jaw-dropping,” Johnson said. “I knew right away that it would turn into a fantastic story about a community coming together.

“They say we don’t get to know our neighbors anymore,” Johnson continued. “But the community in Fayetteville got to know Simon through his story and decided to change his life forever.”

In the wake of Child’s story going viral on social media, a few people have reached out to the City of Fayetteville asking what can be done to help homeless people. Locally, one good resource is Fayette Samaritans, which is located on the campus of Fayetteville Christian Church at the corner of Hickory Road and New Hope Road. They can be reached at 770-719-2707. The United Way of Greater Atlanta is another resource, reached by calling 404-527-7200.

This story originally appeared in the July 2019 edition of Fayetteville’s City News magazine. Click here to read it.

Jul 23, 2019 9:55 am |