When a homeless man came into Minneapolis eatery Abi's Café asking for money, café owner Cesia Abigail Baires stopped and took the time to talk to him. It was an act of mutual courage and honesty that landed the man, identified by Fox 26 Houston as "Marcus," something he didn't expect from the encounter: a job.
"Some restaurants wouldn't even let you use their restrooms," she told CBS News. "I don't judge someone on how they look — go use it. I do not treat [homeless people] any different."
In a post on her Facebook wall, Baires describes what happened. "I looked at him and asked him 'why don't you have a job, you know nothing is given to me for free right?' he said 'Well, I have a lot of felonies and no one wants to hire me for that, so now I had to turn myself to the streets and get money the only way I know, Stealing and asking for money.'"
As it so happened, she was short-staffed that day.
"So I asked him 'you want to work? I have a job for you!'" Baires continues in her post. "His eyes opened wide and his smile made my day!!!! He said I'll do anything for some food. So now for almost 2 weeks he been on time for his two hour shift.... helping take trash, washing dishes etc."
""He got so happy," Baires said in an interview with Fox 9. "That moment, his face, I was just like, you made my heart smile when he made that face."
Marcus' story went viral, prompting Ms. Baires and others to help him in a bigger way.
"There have been a lot of inquiries about donating funds to Abi's Café in order to create more hours and opportunities for him as well as others in the community," she wrote. "My mission is to help him find a permanent place to live and give him another shot at life by providing him with stable work and the things that he need to get back on his feet."
The donations came pouring in, exceeding the goal in just one day.
For Baires, it's a way of paying forward the success she's enjoyed as a business owner.
"Just like Marcus, I had my help," she told CBS. "I had plenty of people to help make it to where I am today. They believed I could do it. People need to have someone believe in them."
Cover photo: Abigail Baires/Facebook and Google Maps.