Dying woman pays it forward to help Valley's homeless

Dying woman pays it forward to help Valley's homeless


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PHOENIX — A Valley woman, dying of cancer, is making the most of the time she has left.

The circle of life and love was on full display outside the Phoenix Rescue Mission Monday as Donna Esposito, 69, taught some valuable life lessons to a group of college students.

"God put us on this earth to give and to help, and that's our job," Esposito said. "He can't do everything, and you can't expect him to. There's so many of us that can help others. It doesn't take much effort or money, just a little time."

Not long ago, doctors told Esposito she only had a short time to live, but it wasn't until the retired teacher took her first ride on the hope coach that her life changed forever.

Helping the Valley's homeless was going to become the dying woman's legacy, but that's not all.

Esposito wanted to pay it forward and show young people how important it is to help others, so she recruited about a dozen young people to go around and provide much-needed food and supplies to folks in need.

"For us to be able to give them food, drinks and blankets, that's huge for me," said volunteer Harris Lyons. "It's nice to see people care. All these people care about them, and they deserve it, too."


"It's so easy to go through life, and so easy to close our eyes and not pay attention to that population," said volunteer Jessica Bohr. "They need it, and it's up to us to lend a hand in our community and give back."

Esposito is hoping the college students will see firsthand what a difference they can make and will continue reaching out to help the homeless, long after she's gone.

"We're all responsible for everybody," Esposito said. "It's the best gift. It really is the best gift."

Esposito plans on handing out water bottles and blankets until she's physically unable to do so anymore.

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