Everyone falls on hard times at some point in their life. For some, these rough periods may be more frequent or challenging than others. For one man named Marcus, who had seen more than his fair share of tough days, walking into a Minnesota café to ask for money was part and parcel of getting through the bad days, but instead of throwing him out, the owner welcomed him in.
Then 25 years old, Cesia Abigail Baires was the proud owner of Abi’s Café in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Soon after opening her café, she had a life-changing encounter. When Marcus walked into Abi’s Café in March 2016, he was looking for nothing more than extra cash. Little did Marcus know what would be in store for him when he stepped into the restaurant that day.
Sympathetic to his plight Baires wanted to give Marcus more than just a few dollars. She invited him to sit down and share his story. Baires then discovered that Marcus had had a rough past. He told her he had been living on the streets since he was a young man and that he had a criminal record that included multiple felonies.
Moved by his story, Baires offered him a job on the spot. While it wasn’t much besides washing dishes and taking out the trash, Marcus was ecstatic. Before putting Marcus to work, Baires gave Marcus a meal. However, she couldn’t believe what he did next.
Marcus stepped outside briefly to share his hot meal with another homeless friend. That was when Baires knew she wanted to keep Marcus around so he could go from homeless and unemployed to hired and no longer hungry.
Baires said it didn’t take her long to realize she could help the man in more ways than by just giving him some money. She told Fox 9: “I’m not just going to give him a couple of dollars or food today, I want to know about him.” So she sat with the homeless man to hear his stories. He told her that because of his criminal record, it was difficult for him to land a job as most employers weren’t keen on hiring ex-convicts. Despite this, she presented him with an offer.
“I said, ‘Marcus would you like to stay a couple hours? Do you want a job? Do you want to work, I have one for you,’” Baires added. After witnessing his kind act of generosity toward another homeless person, Baires said she knew she wanted to hire Marcus long-term.
“From then on, that’s when I just made the decision that I was going to ask him to keep coming,” Baires told the outlet. Quickly, Marcus’s two hours of work turned into part-time work for two weeks.
Readers were touched by their story after Baires shared it on Facebook. The post created a buzz, not only around the owner and her eatery but for Marcus, too. With the increased awareness and public support, Baires would go on to raise more than $8,000 to help others in need as well.
“A lot of people are saying I’ve been a blessing for him, but at that point I was the one who needed a blessing,” she said.
With the Facebook post becoming an instant hit, Baire’s act of kindness received a lot of praise.
“You opened that door up to the universe, or God, showing where your heart is so I’m sure you will get more opportunities to make a difference in those lives and give them hope,” Daily Mail reported one user as commenting.
Another wrote, “Amazing! What a kind soul! I know he values it and appreciates you giving him the chance!”
The owner acknowledges that not every restaurant takes a chance on people off the street.
“Some restaurants wouldn’t even let you use their restrooms,” she told CBS. “I don’t judge someone on how they look – go use it. I do not treat (homeless people) any different.”
She said she is also happy that some of Marcus’s friends, including a woman named Amanda, regularly come to the eatery to check on him.
“She just treats us like regular people, she doesn’t judge us or anything,” Amanda told Fox 9.
“Just like Marcus, I had my help,” Baires explained. “I had plenty of people to help make it to where I am today. They believed I could do it. People need to have someone believe in them.”
Ultimately, while Baires said she was truly genuine about wanting to help Marcus, he also had to want to fight for a better life.
“It’s going to be hard for him to let go of whatever addiction he has,” she said. “I want to help (him), but (he) needs to want to help (himself, too).”
Abi’s Café has since been renamed Abi’s Restaurant and now boasts a new location as well as a food truck.