A chance encounter two years ago in California led to Scott Kuczmarski and Robert Pineda becoming best friends and living within an hour of each other in Rhode Island.
During a visit to Palo Alto, Kuczmarski, 56, was reading The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. Inspired to do something for others, Kuczmarski was handing out water when he met Pineda, 59, who had been experiencing homelessness for 32 years. They had a cup of coffee together, and over the next three weeks, had breakfast every morning, getting to know each other over toast. "I stepped out of my comfort zone a little bit," Pineda told Good Morning America.
When Kuczmarski went back home to Rhode Island, he kept in touch with Pineda over Facebook. He knew he wanted to help get Pineda a stable home, and to prove he was sincere, Kuczmarski asked Pineda if he could spend the night with him on the streets. "I was in so much shock I couldn't believe it," Pineda said. "But Scott was true to his word."
The experience bonded them for life, and Pineda trusted Kuczmarski enough to accept his offer of helping him get medical treatment for his mental illness. Pineda began taking medication, and was ready to move into housing, but couldn't find anything that worked. Once the coronavirus pandemic hit, Kuczmarski was able to help his friend find affordable housing in Rhode Island, just 60 minutes from his own house.
Pineda was excited for his "fresh start," and used his carpentry skills to spruce up his new home. Kuczmarski and Pineda regularly spend time together golfing and working on projects, and Pineda is a frequent guest at Kuczmarski family celebrations. "I gotta pinch myself sometimes," Pineda told GMA. Finding a new best friend has changed Kuczmarski's life for the better, he said, adding, "I get a lot more out of this than I gave by a long shot."