Lovers & Fighters In America: The Exceptional Kindness & Presence Of Joe Thomas

Joe Thomas is what real kindness looks like. (Image Credit: YouTube/News_World_Brief)

'The Lovers & Fighters of America' is a weekly column here at Ravishly featuring behind-the-scenes stories of inspirational people taking a stance against hate.

It was a just a few moments in the day and life of 43-year-old IHOP server Joe Thomas, but it wasn’t long before those special moments — captured on camera and then shared on Facebook — became the talk of the internet. And rightfully so.

Last Saturday, Thomas, an employee of the Springfield, Illinois IHOP location for the past 11 years, was captured in a photo feeding one of his customers her breakfast. The Rochester woman, who suffers from Huntington's disease, and her husband are regulars at the IHOP and Thomas has known them for several years, now.   

With his other customers eating and otherwise taken care of, Thomas took the opportunity to help out. Thomas fed the lady her eggs and applesauce while her husband ate his own meal across the table from them. This was not the first time Thomas sat down to feed this particular customer.

Apparently, the woman’s husband would always feed her first, allowing his own food to go cold. So, one day, Thomas sat down next to the woman and started cutting up her eggs and feeding her. “I didn’t really offer. I just started doing it,” Thomas told CBS News. “I told the gentleman to ‘Sit down, eat your food. I got her.’”

Keshia Dotson was the diner who captured the photo and shared it on IHOP’s Facebook page. She and her parents had noted how friendly Thomas was while he was serving their table. “As soon as we sat down, he was extremely kind and warm to us. I was amazed,” Keshia said.

It was her mother who noticed Thomas’ act of kindness. “My mom was actually the one that noticed him sitting down to feed the disabled woman, and she pointed it out to me, and she made a comment that it was so heartwarming to see something like that happen, and that’s the good news that we need to see in the world,” she told The State Journal Register.

Thomas told CBS News before he started working at IHOP he’d worked in a rehabilitation center. He told them he had lost his mother to diabetes and that his dad suffered from prostate cancer so he is used to caring for others.

It seems Thomas is well known for his kindness. Stephanie Peterson, IHOP’s executive director of communications, told CBS News she’s heard through the franchise and the rest of the team that this is “kind of in his nature.”
 
“He’s always willing to help regular guests that come in,” Peterson said. “This just happened to be captured.”
 
Melissa Roberts, a customer of that IHOP, commented on the viral Facebook post: “This man is a great server. He's waited on my family a few times when we've been to IHOP. This warms my heart to see this. What a kind soul. Keep doin you young man.”
 
Thomas told CBS News before he started working at IHOP he’d worked in a rehabilitation center. He told them he had lost his mother to diabetes and that his dad suffered from prostate cancer so he is used to caring for others.

“I have a soft heart,” Thomas said. “Everything I do is honestly just natural, besides the way my parents raised me. I don’t think about it. I just do it.”

Thomas hopes, after hearing his story, others will follow suit.
 
“Remember that movie, Pay It Foward? That’s what I’m hoping for,” he said.
 
And we here at Ravishly think that’s a fantastic hope. The world needs more people like Joe Thomas because it’s kind acts, like this one, that make the world a better place. We are honored to feature Joe Thomas as this week’s lover and fighter in America.
 

If you know an inspirational Lover & Fighter whom you’d like to see featured on Ravishly, send a message to Shannon Day, via Facebook.

Lovers & Fighters say "hell no" to racism, sexism, bigotry, and xenophobia. These men, women, and children are saying "heck yes" to equality, human decency, and love. From bold acts of advocacy to simple moments of goodness, these everyday people remind us of what it truly means to be American.

These lovers and fighters are resistant in the face of intolerance. They are bold in the presence of judgment. They are determined to join forces (or to stand proudly alone) to ensure their message is heard: #LoveTrumpsHate

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