What this bus driver did for an elderly woman is a reminder that empathy goes a long way
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#WhoWeAre

Sometimes, it's the little gestures in life that end up making the biggest difference. Just ask New York City bus driver Ron Ruiz.

He's driven countless people around the city on the job, but there was one passenger he won't ever forget.

She was an elderly woman who looked "completely lost," as he tells the story in the latest video from #WhoWeAre, a series by Upworthy and Storycorps. Ruiz asked the woman if she needed some help, and she told him she was meeting friends at a restaurant but didn't know where it was.


Most of us probably would've found such a response frustrating — he had a job to do, after all. Besides, he's a bus driver, not a chaperone. But that's not how Ruiz reacted at all.

He went above and beyond the call of bus driver duty for the woman. Ruiz stopped the bus at every restaurant he saw. He went inside to check for her friends. Finally, at the very last one on his route, he found them.

He didn't just drop the woman off and drive away either.

"I wanted to make her feel special, like it was a limousine," said Ruiz, explaining why he personally walked the woman into the restaurant to meet her friends.

She felt like Cinderella, she told him. Before they parted ways, she left him with a small confession — a diagnosis she had recently received. His small act of kindness would not soon be forgotten.

You never know what's going on in someone else's life. It can be easy, in the hustle and bustle of life, to find other people's needs a hinderance to your daily work. But when you take the time to remember that everyone else has highs and lows, successes and failures, and trials and tribulations just like you do, a little empathy and kindness can go a long way.

Hear Ron Ruiz tell the whole story of his unforgettable encounter in the video below:

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.