TODAY

TODAY   |  November 25, 2013

Good Samaritan teaches homeless man computing

Software engineer Patrick McConlogue taught a 37-year-old man living on the streets how to write computer code, changing his life completely. Now Leo Grand is looking for a home, a job, and a place to present his custom-made carpooling app. NBC’s Craig Melvin reports and Grand and McConlogue visit TODAY.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> a great story you guys. a good samaritan that took a chance on a guy that had fallen on hard times and the unlikely partnership is about to pay off. craig melvin has this story. good morning to you.

>> good morning, coding is the complex language of computers. those that master it create software and websites and apps. learning it is hard, very hard. so imagine doing it while homeless. leo graham lives on the new york city streets. patrick walks to work. one day the software engineer stops.

>> i just asked him a question.

>> would you like an offer --

>> i'm a young guy starting out. that's a lot of dinners.

>> $100 for a laptop and to learn how to code.

>> i will spend an hour a day for two months.

>> came to an immediate decision. the $100 will last you for a short time but learning how to code will last you for a lifetime.

>> reporter: so patrick bought leo a laptop, three textbooks and got started. the 23-year-old who learned the language of computers as a child spends an hour before work every morning teaching it to a 37-year-old who said he lost his job.

>> they were building expensive condominiums so the rent shot up and i was evicted.

>> reporter: for two years he has been sleeping in shelters and finding spots to hang out during the day. he has a favorite.

>> i spent most of my time at the apple store soy was always on computers.

>> we're loading it on the script.

>> the speed is insane. with we barely cover things twice. his memory is really good.

>> reporter: after their daily session in the park leo puts in another six hours by himself studying.

>> it's not a walk in the park. no pun intended. the javascript language is difficult and tricky.

>> reporter: but he's getting it. the lessons are going so well, leo is close to unveiling a free app designed to promote car pooling .

>> i want people to use this application and become more knowledgeable and aware of global warming .

>> reporter: an upcoming product launch and a fan page. nearly 40,000 on facebook follow his progress and cheer him on. he hopes to land a job soon and a place to live, but for leo grand, this is also about shattering stereo types.

>> all homeless people are mentally ill , lazy, unintelligent. that's a stigma. it doesn't really matter your living arrangements as long as you have got the mind set to do it and the will, the drive.

>> give a man a fish you feed him for a day. you teach a man to fish and you watch him change the world .

>> and leo 's car pooling app is going to be launched in just a few weeks.

>> that's cool. we have patrick and leo with us. good morning, guys. great to see you.

>> good morning.

>> can you believe all the attention this has gotten?

>> no.

>> is it shocking leo .

>> yeah.

>> so what did you think when somebody comes up a total stranger and says i'm willing to spend this time with you and teach you to code? was it a no brainer? you knew what you wanted to do.

>> yeah, instantly.

>> was it instant, though? was there not a split second when you thought this guy is nuts?

>> should i step out or?

>> i was skeptical at first. and i said give it a shot and see what happens.

>> and patrick , there must have been something about leo that caught your eye and made you think there's more to this person than what i'm seeing when i pass by.

>> you can tell sometimes. there's just something special about somebody and i mean, he's been amazing.

>> leo , you have this app that you are very close to being done with. if you could speak to all the potential employers out there, what would you want to say about what you learned and what you're capable of.

>> i know how to do the server and i understand most of the languages. and computer language , tech language and i'm learning to be good at back end design.

>> and you're also excellent at staying on task. you spend five or six hours a day focused on one project.

>> yeah, basically.

>> and you don't have a permanent place to live yet, do you?

>> i'm staying with a friend.

>> good. good. well, i hope this is the beginning of great things.

>> thank you.

>> your teacher says you're kind of brilliant. almost a photographic memory .

>> he's right.

>> what's the name of the app?

>> trees for cars.

>> trees for cars.

>> patrick and leo , it's a pleasure to meet both of