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A Stranger on a Park Bench Changes Struggling Womans Life  What Happens When They Meet Again 10 Years Later
Stranger Who Changed Struggling Woman’s Life Reunite on the Today Show
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A Stranger on a Park Bench Changes Struggling Womans Life What Happens When They Meet Again 10 Years Later

Two women say it wasn't coincidence that brought them together that day.

It was a dark time in her life when Deborah Rushing wandered into Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia, on a walk to try to clear her head. She was in the throes of an unhealthy relationship and didn’t know how to get out.

“I was very troubled by what had taken place in my life,” Deborah remembered, “and the situation that I was involved in. I was at a very low point. I felt like I was just lost. And I needed help.” But she didn’t know where to get that help. She felt very much alone in the world.

But on that fateful day, when Deborah looked up, she wasn’t alone. A woman, a stranger, standing in front of a fountain just a few feet away met her gaze — and held it. That stranger was Helen Boyd.

“I knew that from the moment I looked at her that there was something very special about her,” Deborah said.

How One Woman Formed a Special Connection With a Stranger

two women laying on fallen leaves
Photo by Asya Cusima

Helen was there with a friend. But when she saw Deborah, she felt compelled to go to her. She told her friend to go on and walked over to the bench where Deborah was sitting.

“I just came up on her. She didn't know where I came from,” Helen remembered. “Something was going on with her. I just told her, 'It's gonna be okay.' I said, 'I'm a friend, and I can help you do this.’”

Helen sat down next to her and, though she was a stranger, gave Deborah a hug. It was like a breath of fresh air for the troubled woman. “I hadn’t had a hug in a long time,” Deborah acknowledged.

Helen listened as this woman whom she had never met before emptied her heart to her. The two talked for an hour and a half. It was an instant connection. Says Deborah, “This bond is unbelievable.”

How Two Women Continued Their Friendship Over the Years

The conversation on that park bench that day changed both women’s lives. Although Helen, whose home is in Atlanta, was just passing through, the two exchanged phone numbers.

They weren't strangers any more. “When Helen walked away,” Deborah remembers, “I felt like a brand new person. I felt that someone truly loved me and wanted the best for me.” 

It was what Deborah needed to start bringing that unhealthy relationship to an end. The two women talked on the phone regularly.

For years, Helen listened and coached and supported Deborah. “She gave me such direction,” Deborah said. She started calling Helen her angel "because she literally dropped out of the sky in front of me…it was literally when I needed her the most.”

And then Deborah decided it was her turn to “drop out of the sky” for Helen. Eight years after that memorable day in the park, the two were reunited on the TodayShow.

How a Stranger Proved to Be a Woman’s Guardian Angel

It was a surprise for Helen; she thought she was going there to talk about how she had helped a friend start a candle business. A camera backstage captured the moment when, as she was watching the screen, Helen realized that she was about to meet Deborah again for the first time in over a decade.

A look of shock and disbelief crossed her face, but she had little time to think about it before the stage doors opened onto the set. The first thing the two women did was to give each other a big hug.

Through tears and laughter, Deborah gushed, “You are real. You’re not just my angel.”

Helen recalled that meeting in the park years ago when something told her that Deborah needed a friend. “It’s a blessing. She needed someone in her life at that time, and I was placed there at that time…Deb looks so great now.”

Deborah insisted that Helen is responsible for a big part of that transformation from the lost and lonely woman on the park bench to the joyful, radiant one sitting on that stage. “I have come a very long way since that day eight years ago,” she said. “I am happy and peaceful.” She’s moved far past that unhealthy relationship and can now fully embrace life.

Deborah continued to explain all the things that Helen had taught her over the years: “You have taught me so much about positivity and how we can go on. How faith, we can grow it.”

Was it coincidence that brought these two women together in Savannah, Georgia, that day? Seeing the strong connection between them, and how they’ve continued to love and support each other over the years, certainly makes one rethink the idea of a stranger and reconsider all of the angels placed into our own lives.

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