Every morning, Josh Cyganik gives Leonard Bullock a smile and a wave as he walks past the 75-year-old man’s house on his way to work.
For four consecutive years, the 35-year-old track inspector for the Union Pacific Railroad has nodded to the Pendleton, Oregon, resident, who sits on his porch all day long, but not once has he ever said a word to the man.
Last month, he finally broke his silence.
As Cyganik stepped out to the curb to fill a garbage can, he overheard two teenage boys walking past Bullock’s house yell, “Look at this crappy house. They just need to burn it down!”
As Cyganik glanced over, he saw Bullock with his head down.
“I couldn’t believe what those kids had said,” Cyganik told CBS News. “It was Leonard, this elderly, old man, who never hurt anybody a day in his life — sits there all day long.”
Later that day, Cyganik went home and stewed about the boys’ rude comment.
After a couple days of thinking, he decided to do something about it.
He called a friend who runs a lumber and paint store, asking him if he’d be willing to donate materials to fix up the stranger’s house. His friend agreed; “anything you need,” he said.
Once Cyganik knew he had enough materials, he moved on to the next item on his check list: workers.
He posted a Facebook status, explaining his call for help.
To his surprise, more than 6,000 people shared the post and dozens commented.
With a little bit of faith, Cyganik knocked on Bullock’s door the next day and asked him if he would like his house repainted.
“He was just flabbergasted,” Cyganik said. “He was excited and he said he would love that!”
The following Saturday, Cyganik and his five coworkers headed over to work on Bullock’s house, unsure how many people would join them.
One by one, people started coming. In fact, the number exceeded Cyganik’s expectations so much, he stopped counting at 95 people.
“It was amazing. That’s the only word I can say,” Cyganik said proudly. “I had no plan. I had no guidance. The way it all fell together — the way it turned out.”
It took nine hours to finish the job, but they did it.
Bullock can now sit proudly outside of his freshly painted house and call it “home.” Even better, he can now call Cyganik not a “stranger,” but a “friend.”
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