Manhattan, September 1986. When an 11-year-old panhandler asked successful businesswoman Laura Schroff for spare change to buy food, she kept right on walking. But then something stopped her in the middle of crossing the street, and she went back and took the young man to lunch – and continued to do so for years.

Laura learned his name was Maurice, that his mother was a drug addict and his father absent, and that his family lived in a filthy welfare hotel only two blocks away from her upscale apartment. As Laura and Maurice spent time together doing simple, everyday things like setting the table, preparing meals, doing laundry, and baking cookies, they built a life-changing friendship that endures today.

What made this remarkable friendship work? Laura said, "He had, inside of him, some miraculous reserve of goodness and strength, some fierce will to be special. I saw this in his hopeful face the day he asked for spare change, and I see it in his eyes today. Whatever made me notice him on that street corner so many years ago is clearly something that cannot be extinguished, no matter how relentless the forces aligned against it. Some may call it spirit. Some might call it heart. Whatever it was, it drew me to him, as if we were bound by some invisible, unbreakable thread. And whatever it is, it binds us still."

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