This month’s #BeBetter is so extraordinarily superhuman that we may just have to feature him for months to come.
Jon Potter, 29, and a former flight instructor, may not be able to leap over tall buildings or read people’s minds but the impact he has left on his Pittsburgh community no doubt puts those carnival acts to shame. For years he has become something of a local legend; the man who says ‘yes’ to everything and anyone who needs help.
And I mean anything…
The campaign of “yes” began in 2016. Potter said while he was getting gas, a woman knocked on his window asking for a ride to the battered women’s shelter. He said no without thinking about it.
“It was a couple seconds later I realized I should have said yes,” Potter recalled of his time at the gas station. “She could be in a lot of trouble.”
“I felt terrible,” he said. “I told myself, I never want to feel that again. I never want to give only when it’s convenient.”
Thus kicked off a year of saying “yes” to anyone he came across that needed help.
One year quickly became two, then three, and now sits at four years in total with no end in sight. Racking up some serious karma points also began gaining Potter fame in Pittsburgh for his hundreds — perhaps thousands — of kind acts, winning him awards, and making him the subject of local media attention.
As long as he is able to do it and it was -- in his words -- “relatively safe” -- he agrees to help.
Through Reddit and his website, Pittsburgh Good Deeds, requests have come in so steadily that Mr. Potter, now earns a living through them and charges a fee when customers can pay; charging for free when they can’t.
Potter’s took it to a whole new level though when he responded to a stranger looking for a kidney donor who was so desperate to find someone that he posted his search on social media.
That man, Michael Moore, who is also from Pittsburgh and is a 57yr old father of two, couldn’t believe someone he had never met would even consider such a life-changing possibility. “I’m just blown away by the fact he was willing to do it,” Moore said, after consider the numerous appointments, and rigorous testing Potter would have to go through before determining if he was a match at all.
All this altruism has had a profound effect on Potter, who openly talks about how he has struggled with depression and anxiety since he was 8 years old. On top of that, in 2018, he was diagnosed with high-functioning autism and says that having that information was a “huge puzzle piece” in his life.
Since then, he’s pushed himself to interact with people and has garnered a new appreciation for others through these random acts of kindness that he would not have been exposed to if turned down them down in their hour of need.
“I trust a lot more now than I did in the past… I trust people’s intentions more.” - Jon Potter
If you’re interested in reading more about the Steel City’s good Samaritan, the Post-Gazette and Washington Post have some great pieces on how his work has genuinely affected those he’s come across. Hopefully he’s inspired you to think twice before turning down the next chance to help someone out. Lord knows most of us are just one “bad day” away being that driver with a flat-tire on the side of the highway or that person who simply could avoid making a decision they’ll later regret if they only had a friend to talk to.
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