A real-life ‘Yes Man’ says yes to anyone who asks for help, even a complete stranger who asked for a kidney
Not all heroes wear capes, but if they did, this man certainly would be sporting it every single day.
After regret set in a couple years ago from turning down a stranger asking for a ride, Jon Potter started committing near-daily acts of kindness in the Pittsburgh community: helping someone repair vinyl siding, moving furniture, fixing a leaky roof, changing a grandmother’s tire on the side of the road. All for free. He even raised $700 for a teen in his community who was injured while stopping a hate crime.
Jon Potter’s superpower is saying yes to anyone who asks for help. And right now there doesn’t appear to be any kryptonite — he even agreed to donate his kidney to a complete stranger.
He’s spent almost four years saying yes to strangers, the homeless and even people on Reddit.
There is really no limit to the help he offers, too. Cat sitting? Yes. Rides in the middle of the night? Yes. Buying people groceries? Yes.
“In reality, I am just an awkward and anxiety ridden guy, who deep down always wanted to do good,” Potter wrote on Reddit.
The yeses began in 2016. Potter said while he was getting gas, a woman knocked on his window asking for a ride to the battered women’s shelter. He said no without thinking about it.
“It was a couple seconds later I realized I should have said yes,” Potter recalled of his time at the gas station. “She could be in a lot of trouble.”
Since then, he made a resolution to say yes to every person who asks for help. As long as he is able to do it and it was — in his words — “relatively safe” — he agrees to help.
Potter, 29, is a former flight instructor, but he quit to do this full time. He’s become so well-known around Pittsburgh that people often hire him instead of a professional to do maintenance work. His work started off free, but people insisted otherwise.
“It turned into everyone wanted to pay me,” he said. “I was still doing good deeds, but people were like, ‘Hey, I need this home repair done, can I pay you?’ And I was like, ‘I guess so.'”
Potter gives a quote for his services, and people pay what they can pay. If they aren’t able, there is no obligation.
Home repairs? Yes. Moving? Yes. No-interest loan? Yes. His latest head nod may be his biggest deed yet: a kidney donation to a stranger online.
That stranger was fellow Pittsburgh resident Michael Moore, who had declining kidney function for years. He used to be an avid runner and he would donate blood frequently. After his kidneys continued to fail, he was put on dialysis and eventually needed a transplant.
A nephrologist at UPMC Hospital in Pittsburgh suggested he post on social media, asking for a transplant donor.
“You just have to look wherever you can,” Moore said the nephrologist told him. “Sometimes [it’s] complete strangers.”
Sure enough, that complete stranger ended up being Potter. He found a picture of Moore on Instagram with a sign asking for a kidney donation.
“From there, he reached out to me,” Moore said. “Jon had a lot of questions. He was learning too about the transplant process, as was I. He was very open and honest.”
Potter decided to learn more and eventually got tested. He was a match. He and his wife went out to eat with Moore’s family and they talked for hours.
Six months later, Potter gave Moore his kidney.
“It was the best moment of my life to wake up after surgery with Mike [Moore], and touched hands with him and realized that, yeah, he doesn’t have to be on dialysis anymore,” he said.
Potter was discharged from the hospital and said he’ll be taking a few months off to recover. Moore paid for the surgery and will pay for Potter’s living expenses related to the recovery.
“I think Jon is a very caring and big-hearted person,” Moore said. “I think he has come to understand and realize that it’s the little things in life that you can do for somebody that can make some of the largest differences.”
Thank you, Jon! You might be a real-life ‘Yes Man’, but you’re also a real-life hero!