We live in a world where we tend to ignore, even avoid people on the margins.
Will Tinkham knows that world all too well.
You may see him walking down the street in Bothell, Washington, talking to no one in particular, and to anyone who will listen.
It makes one wonder: If Will came up to talk to you, what would you do?
Beca Nistrian didn't hesitate when Will stopped by her coffee stand at Bothell Way and Northeast 190th a few weeks ago.
"It's like it was meant to be," she said. "I was meant to have this stand, and he was meant to walk by that day."
And so began an unlikely friendship.
"She is my sister in Christ," said Will, who suffers from a mental handicap. "She is funny, a jokester and always a troublemaker."
Will stops by the coffee stand "Beca's Brew" every day to talk, give the weather report, and tell a joke.
"We talk about all kinds of things," she said. "He's like a human encyclopedia!"
One day recently, Will tried chatting up a customer who at first ignored him, and then essentially told him to go away.
Beca was having none of it.
She politely told the woman the coffee was on the house and that she was no longer welcome at Beca's place of business.
"He may not have known that she was being rude to him, but I knew. I couldn't just sit there and allow her to embarrass him and disrespect him," said Beca.
Beca posted about the incident on Facebook and told her friends Will's 31st birthday was coming up.
Spontaneously, they all came together to give Will a surprise party at the coffee stand.
"It was fabulous," said Will, beaming. "It made me so happy. I almost cried on my birthday!"
The party was attended by some of Will's friends and family, complete strangers and members of the Bothell Police Department who presented him with a commemorative coin.
On that day, one new friend became dozens.
Will is now a part-time employee at Beca's coffee stand. She pays him to take out the trash and recycling, which he is always eager and happy to do.
Will's world has changed forever -- all because one person simply took a few minutes for a stranger who just wanted someone to talk to.
"There are thousands of people like Will in the community," said Beca. "We pass by them and don't acknowledge them as people. If we just took the time. I think everyone would realize they are amazing and have so much to give."
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