Reaching Out: How One Conversation Led to an Unlikely Friendship

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KENNER, La. (WGNO) – We all say we want to help people, but how many times do we reach out to help a stranger?

Most of us would admit, not very often. But our photographer, Byron Caplan, shows you what can happen when one person is willing to make the first move.

“I get as low as I can, and this is usually how I sleep. I keep my clothes and personal possessions in the trunk of my car,” Patrick Stanton said.

Where do you go to the bathroom?

“Okay. Let’s take you over there. It’s behind this building over here,” he said pointing towards a hospital building.

Patrick is homeless.

“I had noticed in the past couple of weeks that there’s been this vehicle parked in the outskirts of the park, right near my house,” J Kostur recounted. “I remember telling myself, is he living here? What’s going on? Does he come here and hang out?”

Instead of just wondering Kostur did what most of us don’t do – he actually struck up a conversation with Patrick.

“A car pulled up next to me, and some gentlemen gets out of the car. And speaks to my very nicely,” Patrick said. “So I told him that I go to work and I go to the hospital to use the facilities and I use their internet and I come, and this is where I am.”

This hit Kostur hard, “In his case where it’s a working poor person that they have a job it’s just that it’s not enough. It’s not enough money to supplement what you actually need in life.

“You think of people barely making it by living in their apartment, not living in their vehicle.”

PatrickKostur went home and launched a GoFundMe project.

The first line reads, “Let me tell y’all a little more about Patrick,”

“He works full time at Walmart for minimum wage, after taxes brings home $350 paychecks biweekly, pays 400 a month in child support for him one child, so that leaves him $300 a month to live off of. He’s not a bum, a drunk, or a drug addict. He’s just a guy who can’t get ahead.”

Kostur hopes to raise enough money to get an apartment and pay the first couple of months for Patrick.

So far the GoFundMe account has been active for 18 days and it has raised more than $1,100. The goal is $2,000.

“Somehow they started a Patrick fund. I mean now… I’m starting to get a little teary eyed now. Can you imagine that? A Patrick fund,” Patrick said.

What’s next?

Since that first meeting, Patrick has gotten a second job, and when he finally gets back on his feet he hopes to help others.

“I want to help people as my friend J has instilled that in me,” he said. “He doesn’t know this. But that’s what I aspire to do.”

Patrick’s situation is not abnormal.

According to a report by the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank, 44 percent of homeless people do some paid work.

If you want to help Patrick go to