A community’s kindness for a stranger

Alison Peña with “Shannon” on the front porch of New Beginnings Church on Monday, Jan. 28. PHOTO COURTESY OF KELLY RAMON

Alison Peña with “Shannon” on the front porch of New Beginnings Church on Monday, Jan. 28. PHOTO COURTESY OF KELLY RAMON

Kindness is spreading like wildfire across Atascosa County this month, showing the depth of what our small community has to offer. Pleasanton native, Alison Peña can be seen tending to stray cats at local businesses at night, taking them in to be spayed/neutered and find new homes. However, she found herself in an unusual situation on Monday, Jan. 28.

While going about her usual business, Alison received a phone call around 11:30 p.m. from cousin, Adrianne Anguiano, about a homeless man sleeping on the front porch of New Beginnings Church in Pleasanton. “She knew I was already out and thought maybe I could help, so my wife and I went to check it out.”

Upon arriving, they found a man by the name of Shannon bundled up sleeping alongside a buggy full of his belongings. “I was afraid to approach him, not knowing if he would get defensive, but when I did, he was very nice,” said Alison. What happened next is an experience Alison and wife Kelly Ramon will never forget.

“That was the night it was really cold and windy, so we asked if we could buy him a motel room for the night and he agreed,” she said, commenting how surprised and grateful Shannon seemed. It had been a long time since he slept in a warm bed. “I asked if I could take a picture with him and he was so excited he wanted to see how it came out. He was nothing like your typical ‘homeless person’.”

Shannon had a buggy full of his few personal belongings including clothes, a sleeping bag and portable cooker. Alison and Kelly drove him down to Eddy’s Motel where they rented a room for him, along with some food. After leaving, Kelly shared his picture and story on Facebook.

Shannon is originally from Indiana and has no family. His parents and grandparents have passed away, although he does have a sister whom he doesn’t have the best relationship with, having only spoken to her three times in the last 10 years. He lives on the highways, traveling slowly in the colder months and quicker in the warmer months. Alison’s cousin Adriana shared the post to the “Buy, Sell, Trade” chat page where the post received a surmountable response.

“People started asking what they could do to help from Kelly’s detailing customers to total strangers, even a couple of New Beginnings church members,” said Alison. “We told them they could help out by paying for a night at the motel for him or by stopping by his room to drop off food and the community really showed up for this man no one knew.”

Alison said in the midst of it all, Shannon never once asked for money or anything at all. “He was a genuinely nice guy who kept himself clean. However, he didn’t have an ID and wasn’t on any kind of assistance or disability despite his speech impairment.”

Due to the outpour of support, Shannon was able to stay at Eddy’s Motel until this past Sunday. From there, he said he was on his way to 1604. Alison and Kelly dropped him off at the Valero off I-37 North, giving him a small amount of money someone donated toward him.

Alison and Kelly would like to extend a big thank you again to everyone in the community who helped Shannon feel welcome and loved during his time in Pleasanton: Adrianne Anguiano, Selena Delgado, Cyndee Simmons, Debbie Castillo of Cactus Garden, Rudy Garcia and family, the Machado Family,

Thomas and Amanda Peña, Liza Guzman, Lisa Perez and Amanda Zepeda from Exxon, Genive Jenny Popham Schievelbein, Jack from Eddy’s Motel, and many more who paid for the motel room or dropped off a hot meal.

“You never know what is going to happen to you. One of us might end up in [Shannon’s] situation one day,” said Kelly. “Not everyone is the same. When you see a person in need like him, you just have to trust in God that you’re doing the right thing.”

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