Whenever you feel like complaining or think you're having a bad day, it's good to be reminded that things could be much worse.

It's hard imagining a homeless person on the streets in the sub-freezing temperatures we've been experiencing. But it gets much worse when you consider that the person comes from another country, can't speak English, and is stranded in a large city with no money.

That was the recent plight of Jaraslav, a 53-year-old coal miner from the Czech Republic, who came to America hoping to find work to support his family back home. After losing his job at a hotel in the Orlando area, he was attempting to return home to see his son and daughter when disaster struck.

He fell asleep while charging his cell phone in the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal. When he awoke, his phone was gone as well as the $1,000 in cash he had saved for the return trip home.

With no money, food or heavy clothing to protect from the cold, he was forced to the streets. For the next month, he stayed in Manhattan homeless shelters.

Jaraslav's fortunes changed after an inner-city group called Thread Society learned about his plight while doing a video about helping the homeless. He ended up with much more than the gloves, sweatshirts and other winter clothes the charitable group offers to homeless people.

Jaraslav was taken to a barber shop for a haircut and shave, and then given some pizza and coffee. More importantly, he was given a hotel room and a flight ticket to get back to his home near Prague.

After experiencing the worst in America - becoming jobless in Orlando and then homeless after a mugging in New York - Jaraslav's story turned into one of the first feel-good stories of the new year.

By Jim Zbick

editor@tnonline.com