OKLAHOMA CITY - “When we see her pull up, we know we’re going eat,” a homeless man in southwest Oklahoma City told News 4. “We know that.”
That’s the tough reality for the homeless people Karen Monahan helps nearly every day.
If she didn’t get up each day, pack food and pass it out to those who need it, some people on the street would go hungry.
Taking care of the homeless can be a thankless job that never ends.
That’s why Janice Hofstra nominated Karen Monahan for the First Fidelity Bank Pay It Forward Award.
Before we surprised Karen, First Fidelity Bank Branch Manager Kimberly Clift came to Neighborhood Pawn, where Janice works, to say thank you for bringing attention to Karen’s work.
“We love to be a part of anyone here who helps support the community, and it sounds like Karen is a true blessing,” Clift told Janice. “So on behalf of First Fidelity Bank, I’d like to present you with $400.”
“Thank you,” Janice said. “Karen’s going to really, really appreciate this and I know that it’s probably going to go from here out to all of the people she serves.”
It’s just moments until Karen arrives at Janice’s shop.
She thinks she’s meeting Janice for lunch and has no idea she’s this week’s Pay It Forward Nominee.
Our crew hides in the back office, waiting for her to arrive.
“Hey, you came!” Janice said as Karen arrived. “Hi! How you doing?”
Before Karen can respond, our crew comes out from the back office to let Karen know about the award.
“You do so much, Karen!” Janice told Karen. “We love you. You know, you give back so much.”
“Oh wow,” Karen exclaimed. “Thank you, Jesus. I just say thank you, Jesus!”
Karen, money in hand, is already behind schedule.
She has a busy day ahead, passing out food on the street, and she agrees to take us out where she works.
But before we hit the streets, Karen shows us an important project she’s operating out of her home.
“These, these are the best shoes for the homeless,” Karen explains as she shows us the shoes she purchased with her own money. “Because of the insoles and just the support. But these are the best shoes for homeless men.”
Good shoes are one of the most important things the homeless can have, being on their feet all day.
Karen buys shoes and T-shirts whenever they’re on sale, all using her own money and giving them out to those in need.
Then head to Southwest Oklahoma City to pass out food and necessities.
“How you guys doing?” Karen asks a group of homeless men. “Are you needing a food bag today?”
Karen gets straight to work, making sure everyone gets something.
She tells us what drives her forward.
“It just breaks my heart, you know?” Karen explains. “My heart is broken for people like that. I’m very thankful that I have a home, and we should all be very thankful that we have a home.”
Our community is thankful indeed for Karen’s work, and it doesn’t come cheap.
The money Karen received from the Pay It Forward Award is going right back to the homeless.
If you want to help out, you can.
Karen has a Go Fund Me Campaign set up to raise more money to buy shoes and T-shirts.
Pay It Forward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.