These Homeless People Got a Surprise They’ll Never Forget
We live in a cruel and cynical world, everybody knows that. But some people manage rise above the cynicism and hardship to make other people’s day a little better. Take Youtuber Greg Benson for example. Benson, whose main Youtube channel is called MediocreFilms, has been known to do a prank or two, usually involving a hidden camera and him doing something outrageous. Yet, he also does a segment called “Prank It Forward: Pranks For Good,” which is part of an organization that does positive pranks in the spirit of the film ‘Pay It Forward’. So what did Benson do this time? Read on for a truly heartwarming prank!
Not all pranks are bad
Everyone at one point or another has either done a prank or has been the victim of one but the purpose of those are usually to embarrass, scare, humiliate, or even anger someone. Have you ever done a prank that would actually generate joy or make someone’s day? That is what Prank It Forward does but it’s more than just making people smile.
The Prank It Forward organization is actually a campaign for charity as they not only bring awareness to homelessness and poverty but also raise money for those causes. For every 1,000 views their videos get and for every share that uses the hashtag #PrankitFWD, they donate a dollar to charity.
Greg Benson, of course, had to get in on it
The popular Youtuber and prankster started doing Prank It Forward videos and has so far published 18 videos related to the campaign. On November 17th, 2015, Benson posted the video titled “Homeless Day Spa Surprise! – Prank It FWD” on his channel MediocreFilms.
In the description, he wrote “We pulled a HUGE surprise for about 25 homeless people, and it was awesome! :-)” and he certainly did. It is so heartwarming to see those homeless people so filled with joy for what he did for them. The video has more than 2,500,000 views! You are not going to believe the strings he pulled.
This homeless shelter wants to end homelessness in Glendale, California
Ascencia Homeless Shelter has been helping those in poverty since 2006, with a mission to “end homelessness in the greater Glendale area, one person, one family at a time.” This is the shelter Benson started working with.
The shelter in Glendale assists homeless people by providing them with housing and programs to help them get back on their feet. This is the place that Benson choose to help out around 25 homeless people who have been spending their time living on the streets. To start off the prnak, he had to convince them to come to the shelter– and that wasn’t an easy task.
He told them it was for free food…
In order to draw the homeless people to the shelter, Benson told them that they would receive a free meal. They had no idea that along with the food, they were in for a special treat, or should I say treatment!
Benson, his crew and the shelter employees and volunteers turned Ascencia Homeless Shelter into a spa for the day. They had racks of clothes out and dressing areas, flowers everywhere to spruce up the room, and tables with supplies and pampering supplies. Those there were definitely not expecting anything more than some food!
They shared the most heartbreaking stories
The people who came to the homeless shelter got to be interviewed by Benson and his crew and they actually had a lot to say. The stories they told were absolutely heartbreaking.
Carmela, the general case manager at Ascenia describes the people she helps as “ready to work. They came from being housed and they just had some bad luck and unfortunate circumstances.” Like one of them said, we have definitely taken things for granted because you never know when you could lose everything.
The effects of living in the streets
The people that work at this shelter have been helping homeless people for a long time and they know how troubling it is. Besides losing physical things, these people also tend to lose their self-respect and dignity.
Becoming homeless can be a big drain on your mental health, which is why it could take even longer to get back on your feet. It can be pretty hard to be positive and see the good in life when you are living on the streets trying to survive. This is exactly what Benson and his crew had in mind when they came up with their prank.
That is why they deserve kindness
As annoying as it might be to have homeless people begging you for money on the streets, they wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t need to. Laura Duncan makes the point “you have to keep acknowledging them and giving them respect and attention.”
That is why any act of kindness towards them is important, and it definitely goes a long way. Just look at how Greg Benson was able to do one thing for them that greatly lifted their spirits. So what exactly did he have in store for them?
With that in mind…
While Ascencia Homeless Shelter has done a lot for those in need, they wanted to do something a little extra. While giving food to the starving is a great thing to do, these people need more than just that. They need people to be kind and give them the kind of day Benson is about to.
While about 25 homeless people were chilling in the next room over eating their free breakfast, Benson and other volunteers were preparing their surprise. They brought in chairs, tables, clothing racks, massage tables, and much more.
After they finished their food…
After they finished eating, Benson came into the dining room and addressed the people there. Then he broke the news that the food wasn’t the only thing they would be getting today.
Instead of telling them exactly what the surprises were, he told them to follow him into the next room. You can tell by the people’s faces that they were so curious about what was in store for them, and Benson looked so thrilled to show them.
Everyone got up and followed Benson into the other room, and their eyes simply lit up as they saw the transformed room. Though they didn’t know exactly what was going on, they knew they were going to have a good time.
Benson greeted them by welcoming them to the “Ascencia Shelter Day Spa.” Immedietly, everyone started cheering and smiling. It has been probably so long since they received some much care and been able to treat themselves.
The got some special treats
Finally, after spending so much time on the streets, they were going to get some much needed pampering like you would expect going to a spa.
They were offered beard trims, haircuts, manicures, and the ladies could have their makeup done. Besides that, there was also a “shopping area” where they could receive a new outfit and even get help coming up with the perfect look. As Benson sums up, “We just want you guys to feel great today!”
Not only that…
Just when you thought all of that was super nice and kind, Benson informed them they were in for even more treats. Everyone could have a relaxing hot shower complete with shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Towels included, of course!
Everyone would also get brand new socks and underwear before they got to change into their new clothing. If the shower wasn’t relaxing enough for them, they could have a massage done by two professional masseuses to really take the stress away.
They had such a great day
Everyone immediately went to their favorite thing and it was so heartwarming to see how happy they were. Some were excited about new clothes, others wanted to massage their stresses away. There was definitely something for everyone.
It was so nice to see these people who came in looking like they probably haven’t been able to bathe properly in a while get so clean. With their new clothes and haircuts, they looked so much younger and refreshed.
They were barely recognizable
After spending the day getting pampered at the spa, the homeless group’s spirits were definitely lifted. Their ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots really show the difference!
Not only do they look better (and cleaner!) but they also look so much happier and more relaxed. They couldn’t stop saying thanking the crew and gushing over their new looks.
One of the hairstylists used to be homeless
The makeover stylists had some special stories to tell themselves. One of the hairstylists, a man named Jozef Esfahani, said this “Prank It Forward” was a little more personal for him.
He explained that he used to be homeless like they are and that is why this means so much to him. He also explained that he never forgot those who helped him and it was so great to be able to give back. It was his chance to pay it forward.
As if the makeover weren’t enough
Of course, after all that spa treatment and cloth shopping, it was time for another delicious meal. Benson and his crew weren’t just going to give them any food, they wanted them to get it from one of the best food trucks in the area.
Greg, AJ, and Monique of Postcards Central American Soul Food truck were happy to take part in this special day. They own a celebrity food truck that operates in downtown LA and came to Ascencia Shelter to give the homeless a great meal. That still wasn’t it, though!
They got one last gift
Benson is just the guy who keeps on giving! After the spa day came to an end and it was time for everyone to go back to where they came from, they received one last gift.
Everyone got a brand new waterproof jacket that will not only shield them from the rain but also keep them warm at night. They also received a matching waterproof backpack that is filled with supplies and goodies to make them a little more comfortable in their everyday lives.
Another generous donation
Benson even had a surprise for the shelter itself. While they did do a lot to pull this spa day off, they also do hard work each and every day to ensure homeless people are being helped out. They really do amazing work.
He made a donation of $3,000 to Ascencia Shelter saying he hopes they continue to do what they do best. They are always there to help those in need as best as they can.
Benson’s last remark is something to remember
Not only did Benson and the volunteers give these homeless people a fabulous day, they also showed them that people do care about them. One Vietnam veteran told Benson that he wasn’t used to any sort of affection and it really is heartbreaking.
At the end of the video, Benson tells us “please remember to treat your fellow men and women with kindness and dignity“ because no one deserves to be thrown out onto the streets and forgotten. Treat people the way you would want to be treated.
20. Everyone deserved thank yous
While Greg Benson may have been the mastermind behind this awesome day, there were so many other people that deserved a huge thank you. The employees and volunteers of Ascencia Shelter took time and dedication to make this day special.
The food truck owners also deserved a big thanks for coming out to feed them a delicious lunch and the hairstylists for giving haircuts to those in need. Also, Camarillo Premium Outlets and Columbia Sportswear Co. for providing the clothes! Everyone did their best to give the group a day they will never forget.
You can help out too!
Another important thing mentioned in the video is your own ability to help out the homeless in your area. Even the smallest thing could make their day so much better, even if it is simply acknowledging their existence.
You can also help out by sharing the video at the end of this article and using the hashtag #Prankitfwd because the more people that do, the more money that gets donated to dosomething.org. You can also donate money directly to homeless shelters and charities.
This wasn’t the first time he surprised homeless people
Youtubers are always expecting Greg Benson to do prank videos but they were surprised one day to find out he decided to do a positive prank. After he teamed up with Prank It Fwd, he came up with an idea to surprise about 50 homeless people at a shelter.
In the video, he gives us the statistic that 3% of the United States’ population is homeless, which is about 9,642,000 people. Again, he worked with Ascencia Homeless Shelter to transform it and give homeless people one great night.
Another shelter transformation
Instead of turning this shelter into a spa, though, Benson made it into a 5-star restaurant. He did this by giving the dining room a makeover and literally making it look like a fancy LA restaurant.
This involved hiring a production design team, a catering company, an Instrumental Casting string quartet, and, of course, a chef. All these people were happy to help out in this amazing Prank It Fwd video and give homeless people a special night.
The emergency housing people were the guests
After the design crew was finished transforming the simple shelter room into a beautiful restaurant, it was time to bring in the guests. Ascencia has two emergency housing programs where eligible people can have a bed for 60-90 days.
They live at the shelter and those were the people that got invited to the 5-star restaurant Benson organized. They were so surprised to walk into a completely transformed room and to be welcomed to “Cafe Ascencia.”
A black tie event
They were seated by Benson wearing a tux and waited on by waiters who served them all their courses. They were given a salad, a tasty filet mignon, and a scrumptous dessert, which was very different from what they were used to having.
While they ate, they were entertained by a string quartet and Benson walked around to make sure everyone was satisfied. At the end, they were given gift bags and Benson gave a donation to the charity. You just have to see how happy everyone was to have such a special meal!
Watch the full videos below!
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