After being turned down more than 100 times, Marcus, a homeless Minneapolis job-seeker with a criminal record, was just about to give up.
Then he got a second chance to turn his life around.
McDonald's and various temp agencies wouldn't even consider him due to his appearance and record. But when Marcus walked into Abi's Cafe begging for money two weeks ago, owner Cesia Abigail decided to ask him why he didn't have a job.
"I see Marcus and many other homeless people walk up and down the street every day and wonder why they are there," Abigail, 25, told TODAY.com. "Once he told me his story, I felt a greater compassion and thought: Why not help him out?"
Marcus grew up in the Minneapolis area and, at age 18, ran away from his parents and their divorce. In 2001 he had a short stint in the kitchen of an Italian restaurant, but when that closed down, he was back on the streets.
Abigail offered Marcus $9 an hour to wash dishes for two hours a day. It was all she could afford at the time, but she plans on giving him more work once he settles into the job. She's also helping him find a place to live and started a GoFundMe to raise money.
"His reaction to finally landing a job made my heart smile," Abigail said.
Even though he can eat the restaurant's food at a discount, Marcus insists on paying full price because it makes him "feel good." Not only that: He doesn't keep all his food to himself.
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"Before finishing a sandwich the other day, he saved half to give to another homeless person," Abigail said. "For a man whose been hungry for years, he sure is giving!"
Maybe too giving: After spending all his wages to feed others, Marcus asked Abigail to help him manage his money. She sat him down and told him what she had been taught growing up: Always put aside 30 percent in savings.
And that wasn't the only first for Marcus over the past two weeks. When Abigail sent him to the grocery store to pick up a few items, he came back glowing. He couldn't remember the last time he'd gone into a store, stood in line and paid for something. He raved to the kitchen staff about how good it felt.
"If more of us were to do something like this for others, it wouldn't be as abnormal, and take more people off the streets," Abigail said.