YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – For months, a Youngstown man with developmental disabilities has gone outside to wave to the train that goes by daily. Last week, he got a special surprise from the conductor.
For the past seven months, Matt Neff has gone outside of the Purple Cat on Southern Boulevard for one very specific reason – to watch the trains.
“I watch it come down that way,” Matt said, pointing out his favorite spot.
He waits for the train that goes by several days a week. And when he hears it coming, he makes sure he’s ready to wave to the conductor as he goes by.
Matt loves trains and knows so much about them. He says the train that goes by starts in North Lima and ends in Lowellville.
“I love to be around them. They are so neat,” he said.
Just last week, Matt got a very special surprise. The conductor noticed his excitement and stopped the train to meet him and give him a gift. It was a calendar.
“I was happy because he got out of the train and gave me the calendar!” Matt said.
The people closest to Matt know how special that moment was.
“It makes me feel good that someone like that would take the time to engage with Matt,” said Bill Neff, Matt’s dad.
Matt’s mom, Mary, said a small gesture like that can mean so much to Matt.
“They don’t realize what that’s done for my son’s life. Everyone deserves happiness, and everyone needs to be treated with kindness and dignity,” she said.
Purple Cat works every day to create moments like that for all their clients.
“I think it’s a big part of what Purple Cat does, and a big part of what the board strives to do is connect people with services that they need but also make it so person-centered that they get experiences like this, which is heartwarming,” said Cody Bauer, service and support administrator for the Mahoning County Department of Developmental Disabilities.
Matt’s family says it’s a moment he’ll never forget and a reminder that even the smallest gestures can make the biggest impact.
“Kindness is always worth it, If we could keep passing it on, it’s worth it,” Mary said.