Homeless People Call This Fla. Great-Grandmother ‘Mom’ Because She’s Given Supplies for 30 Years
Yvonne Franklin has assisted the homeless community around her neighborhood of Fort Walton Beach for the last three decades
Yvonne Franklin, a great-grandmother from Florida, has dedicated her life to helping the homeless — and she has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
The 82 year old has lent a helping hand to the homeless community around her home in Fort Walton Beach for the last three decades, and she says picked up the nickname "mom" for her reputation of handing out supplies and other goods without a moment's hesitation.
"I've learned to be helpful for them and I've learned not to judge them," Franklin tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "I never judge any of them at all because they're all people."
Franklin often has blankets, clothing and food in the trunk of her car to pass out whenever she's driving through town. She has been a longtime volunteer with nonprofits in the area — such as Sharing & Caring — and has helped them raise donations to support the homeless.
"What they need is friendship," Franklin says. "Or just a cup of coffee on the streets."
Franklin's work has left an impression on her family, including her three children (not to mention her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren).
"I've always tried to teach [my children] to have a compassionate heart like my mom has taught me, to truly care and be a friend to those less fortunate," Franklin's daughter, Donna Conklin, tells PEOPLE.
"It's a good message because now it's really so hard," she adds. "People in the world today, I just see less of it and less of it. And I think we need to go the other direction because people really have a hard time."
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Conklin points to folks' struggles with substance abuse, mental illness and unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We all have to stop and think — they are people just like us," says 59-year-old Conklin, "and [my mom has] truly always cared for anybody and everybody and showed friendship no matter what."
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With her work, Franklin hopes to inspire others around the country to become involved.
"If you see somebody out there holding a sign, ask them what they need," she says. "Ask them if they need a cup of coffee or our hamburger or something like that."
"Anybody can do it," Franklin adds. "Anybody can do it because it's a very rewarding type of work that I do and I show compassion for the people. I love them all."
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