A small business owner in San Diego has experienced a surge of public support for defending a homeless man who lives near the owner’s donut shop.
Nomad Donuts is located in North Park, a neighborhood in San Diego, California. The shop, opened by Brad Keiller and Cameron Corley in 2014, offers gourmet doughnuts, pastries and bagels.
Of the thousands of reviews that customers have left about Nomad Donuts on the business directory service Yelp, a recent negative 1-star review posted on Nov. 17 left Keiller wondering how to respond.
The customer who wrote the review, which has since been removed, strongly disapproved of the continual presence of a homeless man along the shop’s west wall, which “really makes me feel great about spending $5 on a jelly donut,” The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Keiller, 49, said he went back and forth about how to respond, and about whether he should keep the response private or make it public.
He ultimately decided to respond publicly, wanting to convey his feelings that homeless people like Ray Taylor, who does live by his donut shop, deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
“I understand how you feel, it’s not easy to look at,” wrote Keiller.
“I know I probably lose some business, possibly yours, too, because of my choice not to chase him away, but I won’t. He’s not looking for handouts and he tries not to bother anyone. If you stop and talk to him, maybe you’ll come to like him, too.”
Yelp users loved Keiller’s heartwarming response and began sharing it on social media. Soon, Keiller’s story was national news and a fundraising campaign had been started to benefit Taylor.
Taylor told The San Diego Union-Tribune that he has been living on the streets since 2011. He had always been employed in electronics assembly and as a deliveryman and handyman, but a string of health incidents and unemployment left him uninsured and struggling to make ends meet.
Taylor is thankful that Keiller spoke up in his defense and is surprised by the outpouring of friendliness that has come his way since the incident.
“I was shocked by it and a little self-conscious, because I wasn’t sure how people would react. But it’s been great,” Taylor said. “People have been driving up and waving at me and saying hello. I’m not sure what will come of this, but I’m just going to enjoy it while it lasts.”
Keiller set up a GoFundMe campaign for Taylor, which has raised nearly $5,000 in just a few weeks as of Wednesday morning.
Keiller told KNSD-TV that though Taylor is homeless, he deserves to be treated like a human.
“You’re not really treating him like a person, you know, we’re all here,” Keiller said.
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