COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Columbia mother is celebrating the human spirit through a now-viral Facebook post of a homeless man singing sweetly with her daughter with Down syndrome.
Kimberly B. Phillips posted a video on Jan. 26 of a homeless man in Columbia singing with her 8-year-old daughter, Neveah. Phillips explained that her daughter has Down syndrome is typically non-verbal.
The pair met while they were visiting a church that was helping feed several displaced Allen Benedict Court apartments residents where she met Teiyon, a homeless man, working at the ministry on Main Street.
Her mother said Neveah may be non-verbal, “but her actions speaks louder than words.”
“Even around Christmas, she dresses as an elf and passes out candy to people in the community,” Phillips said. “People are just in awe of her personality.”
Phillips said Neveah has a gift for people who need her, and everyone who meets her is left with a big smile on their face. She said that’s why through Neveah’s loving spirit, she’s coined the phrase "let your act be your impacts.”
“Love made her do it,” Phillips said about Neveah and her gravitation toward the man. She said the advocacy of homelessness and Down syndrome is what needs to be addressed through their quick bond.
“She just knows how to draw a crowd - she just has a gift,” Phillips said. “I am just glad everyone has seen it and it’s gone viral - I just wanted to inspire."
After some digging, Teiyon was able to recall that the song he sung, “I Understand” by Smokie Norful, is a gospel ballad that touched both him and Naveah’s hearts. “When I met her I knew I had to find a way to relate. I think that music has a way of being therapeutic.”
On Thursday, Phillips posted that she’d tracked the man down and told them about the success and outpouring of love the pair’s duet has had on the world, thanks to social media.
“We found him!!! He was in shock and he read the comments with a big smile on his face:)!!! You all have given him so much hope today!!!! He leaned down to Nevaeh and said...look what we did,” Phillips wrote. “He went to get Nevaeh a water bottle and a flavor packet and one of the other men gave her his KitKat bar. I can’t tell you how full our hearts are!!!! His smile said it all:)!!! And each time he passed me he said ‘a million views???’ He has been in shock: )!”
“I just wanted to show the world what children with Down syndrome are like,” Phillips said. “You will be blessed beyond measure because they know and they want to bring you joy. They are leading by example - and that’s how we should all be loving others.” Phillips also said that muisc has always been a huge part of her life. “She connects throughout music and when she’s out doing what inspires her – she does interact. She’s very animated.”
Neveah and her mom share her love on her Facebook page “Neveah’s Smile A Love without Limits” and you can follow her there.
“When it comes to advocacy, it’s time to cut the political crap - it’s about these people and their journey,” Phillips said. “It’s about having a geniune conversation - if we don’t have break down these walls, nothing will ever get done."
After meeting up again this past week and chatting with us at WIS, Phillips and Teiyon are still thrilled with the continued impact. “We’re just really excited that we get two sides of awareness,” said Phillips, “we have downs syndrome awareness and homelessness awareness – and they both have labels and we’re trying to change that.”
Teiyon, thanks to the video, has been found by many former classmates of his who have reached out to give a helping hand. “There’s been a lot of people – an outpouring of love and we’re just kinda in shock still. Ecstatic.”
Phillips also said she’s had a number of people reach out to see how they can help Teiyon out of homelessness, and she’s working to set some things up. “It’s the love that we feel,” Phillips said, “we want the world to have more of that.”