Yvonne Franklin of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, has a lot of people who call her “mom” — both related by blood and marriage, as well as those who are not.
Some have given the 82-year-old the title to recognize her unusual generosity and giving spirit, as for more than three decades she’s been helping out the homeless in her area.
“I’ve learned to be helpful for them and I’ve learned not to judge them,” she told People. “I never judge any of them at all because they’re all people.”
To that end, she keeps basic supplies — clothes, blankets, food — in her car at all times in case she comes across someone who could use them. Over the years, she’s worked with a variety of local groups who raise funds to help the homeless.
But Franklin advises that years of experience and a stash of supplies aren’t necessary to make a difference in someone’s life.
“What they need is friendship,” she said. “Or just a cup of coffee on the streets.”
“If you see somebody out there holding a sign, ask them what they need. Ask them if they need a cup of coffee or our hamburger or something like that.”
Her kindness has been observed by her children and her children’s children, who all recognize the powerhouse of human kindness they have in their mother and grandmother.
“I’ve always tried to teach [my children] to have a compassionate heart like my mom has taught me, to truly care and be a friend to those less fortunate,” Donna Conklin, Franklin’s daughter, said.
“It’s a good message because now it’s really so hard. People in the world today, I just see less of it and less of it. And I think we need to go the other direction because people really have a hard time.”
“We all have to stop and think — they are people just like us, and [my mom has] truly always cared for anybody and everybody and showed friendship no matter what.”
Franklin’s grandson, Colby Conklin, shared the article highlighting his grandma and praised her work and character.
“My sweet Grandmother was recently mentioned in People Magazine!” he posted on Facebook. “She has the biggest heart and I couldn’t be more proud of her. Love her so much.”
“Mom” seems to suit her, several times over, as she’s taken so many under her wing and encourages others to do the same.
“Anybody can do it,” Franklin added. “Anybody can do it because it’s a very rewarding type of work that I do and I show compassion for the people. I love them all.”
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