For more than a decade, Joe Thomas, 43, has been working at an IHOP restaurant in Springfield, Illinois.
On Saturday, a couple of his regulars stopped in for breakfast. Thomas knows the woman has trouble eating because of a medical issue.
“I always see him stop eating to feed her, and I was like, ‘Heck, if I’m not doing anything, why don’t I go feed her so he can eat and everyone can be happy?’” Thomas told WICS.
He told Buzzfeed News that the woman, identified only as Ma, has Huntington's disease, which makes it difficult for her to use utensils.
“I remember when she was able to walk and feed herself more than she can now,” Thomas told Buzzfeed, noting that he had seen Ma’s condition worsen over the last seven years. “We’ve become good friends, and I’ve grown attached to her. I’m just here to help.”
According to Buzzfeed, Thomas helping Ma eat has become “a standard weekend tradition,” and she usually always orders applesauce, fruit and eggs.
This past weekend, a woman sitting at another table spotted the touching moment and snapped a photo of Thomas’ act of kindness.
She shared the photo with IHOP on Facebook, where it quickly went viral, getting more than 4,500 shares.
Today while visiting your Springfield, IL location on Dirksen I witnessed a very touching moment involving one of your...
The woman who posted the photo said her faith in humanity had been restored that day.
Thomas spent some time reading the comments from strangers around the world, who commended him on his kindness.
“It really felt good for somebody to actually see another person is doing something and take notice,” Thomas said. “It felt good, but at the same time I was like I really don’t care for the recognition too much because it’s just something that should automatically be done regardless.”
Thomas told WICS that since the photo was shared, he has received a job opportunity to become a nurse. It’s unclear if he was offered a caregiver position or if he was encouraged to pursue the training and certification needed for medical positions.