Crestview man's random act of kindness touches family.
CRESTVIEW — Jennifer Austin was just about to give up.
It already had been a physically and emotionally stressful day. Her husband, Don, had just undergone a partial leg amputation Monday because of a medical issue. Friday was the day he could finally come home from the hospital.
But there was one problem: He couldn’t make it up his own front steps.
“He thought he could hop up on the steps, but he was just way too weak,” Jennifer said. “I tried to get him up, his mom tried to help him, but next thing I knew he was down on the steps and trying to butt scoot.”
Exhausted and defeated, Jennifer and Vina Austin, Don’s mother, went into the front yard and tried to decide what to do next. Jennifer was about to call for help when a stranger in a pickup truck pulled up.
“He was like, ‘Can I help y’all?’ ” Jennifer said. “We had never met this man before our entire lives, but we told him what was going on, and God love him, he picked my husband up off the steps and got him in on the couch.”
That stranger was Steven Smith, an iron worker and welder from Crestview who just happened to be driving by when he said he noticed Jennifer and Vina in their yard.
“They looked like they had been worn out and didn’t know what to do, so I pulled up in their yard and asked if I could help,” Smith said.
Jennifer said after Steven got Don in their home, she and Vina were overcome with emotion.
“We were so grateful and very emotional at that point,” she said. “It was relief and exhaustion, and we were so thankful we couldn’t thank him enough.”
The Austins said their thank yous, and Steven went on his way. But the story didn’t end there.
“When I left there I felt like I didn’t help him enough,” Smith said. “I kept picturing how he was going to get in and out of the house with no access.”
As the Austins were researching ramp prices Friday night, Smith was doing a little bit of research on his own. He was at their front door again Saturday morning.
“The next morning there was a knock at the door, and it was (Steven),” Jennifer said. “He said he wanted to build us a ramp. ... There wasn’t a dry eye in our house at that moment. We couldn’t believe it.”
Smith, along with his father, Russell Smith, and 14-year-old daughter, Harley McClellan, spent all Saturday building a ramp for Don. He said he doesn’t usually go around building handicap ramps for strangers, but had been going through a rough time in his own life lately and simply did something that he knew was needed to help someone else.
“I’ve been going through some struggles myself in my life and I was actually driving around looking for a house for myself to live in,” Smith said. “And before I knew it, I was in his yard and wanting to help him.”
Jennifer was so touched that she posted about it on her Facebook page. The post has since been shared, liked and commented on hundreds of times. She called Smith an “angel” and said she thinks it resonates with people because it is a happy story in a world filled with heartache.
She hopes it will inspire others to perform random acts of kindness.
“If you have an opportunity to help somebody, maybe you should take it,” Jennifer said. “If you think, ‘Maybe I should stop,’ you probably should, because more than likely no one else will.”