Many high school graduates are thinking about their careers, higher education, relationships, and travel. For one 19-year-old in San Jose, he’s focusing on one thing above all else: helping the homeless. The local remains anonymous behind his homemade Batman suit and a respirator mask. His attire is meant to draw attention to his actions, but he doesn’t reveal his name because he doesn’t want to take attention away from the problem. Read on to see how this ordinary hero is inspiring others to stand up and make a change.
He’s Well-Recognized In San Jose
Neighbors refer to the anonymous 19-year-old as “Batman” for both his attire and his heroic behavior. The young man has spent upwards of a year delivering food, water, and other necessities to the homeless nearly every day.
He pulls supplies in a wagon as he weaves through local communities, offering whatever he can to those in need. This real-life Batman has become a breath of fresh air to homeless encampment dwellers, who often feel forgotten and ignored.
San Jose Homelessness Went Up 42% In Two Years
Batman’s efforts are timely as ever, with more than 6,000 people living on the streets of San Jose, California. The inspiration young man felt a need to get out and do something, especially as the problem continues to grow.
The Mercury News reports that the city’s homelessness increased by 42% from 2018 to 2020. Batman told the news outlet, “It’s definitely gotten worse from when I started.” The hero doesn’t let the numbers discourage him. If anything, they’re his fuel.
The Costume Is Designed To Grab Attention
Dressing up like Batman didn’t happen by accident. The local hero wanted to get as much attention as he could, hence making the costume purple instead of just black.
He told The Mercury News, “I want to draw attention to the issues that people don’t like to look at.” As soon as a passerby sees the purple Batman, they will likely continue watching his as he interacts with the homeless. The attention may start with him, but it ends on them.
His Mask Is For Anonymity And Protection
Batman’s costume is constructed out of motocross armor and is topped with a respirator mask. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the mask enables the Dark Knight to keep up the good work while mitigating health risks.
It also keeps his identity protected by helping to keep his face covered and by muffling the sound of his voice. He also carries tools and a first aid kit around his waist in case someone he encounters needs medical attention or help with their shelter.
He Uses A Parking Garage As His Dressing Room
To stay out of the limelight, Batman gets ready for the day in empty parking garages and other ambiguous areas. He can’t leave the house all dressed up or the neighbors will be able to identify him.
Much like the superheroes in movies, the Dark Knight leaves the house dressed as normal and then transforms his appearance when no one is looking. He’s put a great deal of thought into his costume and preparations.
He Hands Out $20 Worth Of Supplies Or More Each Day
Humans need quite a bit of resources to get through each day, and that’s why Batman is sure to bring as much as he can to those in need. He spends $20 or more on supplies each day, relying heavily on dollar stores to get as much as he can.
Some of these items include bottled water, canned goods like tuna and ravioli, blankets, and clothing. He tries to pick things that will suit the homeless’ circumstances, like tall, dark socks that are warmer and won’t reveal as much dirt.
He Goes Wherever He’s Needed
One elderly man who Batman handed water to noted that he’s seen the young hero “everywhere.” Wherever in those without a home gather, that’s where the young man goes. San Jose’s Batman first got a taste for serving the homeless when he was in high school.
The program required a certain number of community service hours, which he fulfilled at Sacred Heart, a community service initiative. He also went to various soup kitchens, through which he met more of the homeless community.
He Sometimes Serves Up Cafeteria-Style Hot Meals
Batman goes above and beyond to serve the local homeless community. He not only brings them packaged items, but also goes out of his way to prepare hot meals as often as he can.
NBC San Jose reported that the young hero brings the hot meals to popular homeless spots and serves them cafeteria-style with gloves and individually-wrapped utensils. He does his best to be thoughtful of those he serves in the midst of a health crisis.
He Can’t Always Get To Everyone
One of the most difficult parts of Batman’s self-proclaimed duty is not being able to help each and every unhoused person he comes across. He spends hours delivering upwards of 100 water bottles and dozens of cans of food to as many as he can.
Once he’s out of resources, he’s forced to turn around, even if there’s still more rows of tents. As more and more people become homeless in the area, Batman finds himself less equipped to battle the problem.
He Keeps Track Of His Promises
Though Batman can’t always bring supplies to everyone in need, he can offer them an open ear. If someone needs a specific item, like a blanket or shoes, he jots it down in his notebook.
As someone who a community of people looks up to, Batman wants to be sure that he does not break any promises. Forgetting something is easy to do, but for those living on the streets, it could be a major letdown.
Sometimes Acknowledgment Is The Best Gift
Though Batman can’t deliver everything everyone needs, there is one thing he can always offer up, and that’s a bit of friendly conversation. Throughout his years of volunteer work, he’s come to realize how many people lose sight of their humanity.
He told NBC Bay Area, “Conversation is so important because being on the street dehumanizes you. You are just ignored by people.” The more Batman chats with people, the more comfortable they feel with him.
One Woman, In Particular, Loves Seeing Batman
Perhaps one of the most heart-wrenching examples of how far Batman’s conversations go is Elizabeth Henriques. The 53-year-old woman is tiny compared to the 6’3″ Batman, but she opens her arms up for a hug as soon as she sees him.
Her big smile and tear-filled eyes are a testament to how much seeing Batman means to her. She shared the good news with her heroic friend: she’s been placed into an unhoused motel room. At last, she can shower every day, and just in time for her upcoming birthday.
He Saved Another Woman’s Life
One of Batman’s most standout act of heroism was when he encountered a seizing woman. The unhoused individual was diabetic and her blood sugar was so severely low that it caused her to have a seizure.
In true hero-fashion, Batman raced to a store to get candy. He made it back in time to provide the woman with what she needed so that the seizure subsided. We can only imagine what would have happened if he hadn’t been around.
Batman Couldn’t Stop Thinking About One Small Family
Even people who act like heroes still have things that get to them. For San Jose’s Batman, it’s a family of two who live in a tarp-covered tent on the other side of a chain-link fence.
The family consists of a mother and her 3-year-old son. Batman brought them food and water, only to see that they were gone. He would later find out that they were also placed in a temporary motel room, so at least the little one can have a bath.
He’s Always Willing To Make New Friends
Batman is sure to make people feel that he genuinely cares and wants to build a relationship with them. He’ll stay out all day getting to know them, will swap information, and is eager to help with what they need.
He’s a shining example of what humanitarian effort really means. It’s not just about giving away free stuff. It’s about the intention behind what you do, and showing people that someone cares about their circumstances.
Batman Spent His Birthday Giving
Another beautiful act of selflessness was when Batman decided to spend his birthday giving to the unhoused. He does so much already, that no one would have put it against him to take a day for himself.
Since Batman puts helping others first, his closest friends showed their love and support by joining him on his birthday. As a group, they could reach more people faster, which is Batman’s ultimate dream. As they say, “Teamwork makes the dream work.”
He’s Gathered Fans Along The Way
As Batman’s story continues to grow, locals are taking notice. People will say “Hi” as they drive by or stop to take a photo with the inspirational young man. The attention has drawn some to his Patreon account, where 76 people have signed up to give him monthly donations.
So far, he brings in more than $1,500 a month in donations, and that’s not including offerings made to his Venmo account. With that money, he can load up his wagon every day to pass out the bare necessities his fellow neighbors need.
Batman Has A “Robin”
Though this Batman predominantly works alone, there is one individual that is popularly regarded as his “Robin.” The man is a local immigration attorney named Nikhil Bhatnagar. Since the nature of his job is for the people, he feels he can’t turn a blind eye to the unhoused.
It was while he was out feeding the homeless that he saw Batman, and the two have since become friends. Nikhil joked to NBC Bay Area that he’d rather be called Daredevil, but he’s happy the Robin nickname ties him to his respectable ally.
Nikhil Calls What He And Batman Do A “Band-Aid”
Though attorney Nikhil is moved by Batman’s commitment to helping the homeless, he also notes that his need to do so “demonstrates a flaw in the system.” He calls both of their selfless acts a band-aid, knowing that other solutions need to be in place for long-term results.
Those solutions all start with society’s attitude towards homelessness. For Nikhil, the real work that they are doing is changing how others perceive those who are in need.
The Ultimate Goal Is To Inspire Others
Though Batman is happy to help those in need, he ultimately dreams of a world where there are a lot more people demonstrating similar acts of selflessness. He told The Mercury News, “I want to show that literally anybody can do this.”
He said, “You don’t have to be super-rich to do this. You don’t have to be super old or super young. You can be whatever age. You can be anybody.” The young man is certainly doing an excellent job of leading by example.
Batman’s First Follower
Batman’s words and story are hard-hitting, but there’s one person in particular who was especially moved. That individual is an 18-year-old who goes by Spiderman. The fellow good samaritan has modeled after Batman.
He now goes around his town of Cupertino, California, delivering food, water, and other household items to the local unhoused. Spiderman is Batman’s first follower, and he’s proud to be carrying on the message and helping to change the attitude of ignoring the homeless.
Spiderman Uses Bike Baskets Instead Of A Wagon
Where Batman uses a wagon to cart around his supplies, Spiderman decided to implement his bicycle by fixing two baskets to the rear. He loads up the baskets with water, food, and more and then bikes around town.
The advantage is that Spiderman can get even further than he’d be able to on foot and in less time. His strategy goes to show that the idea of one person can be expanded upon and improved by another.
He Takes Special Requests
Similar to how Batman jots down people’s unique needs in his notebook, Spiderman also takes special requests. In one Instagram post, he shared an image of earplugs and noted that one unhoused person asks for them because “the roads are loud at night.”
Spiderman has also provided chalk to an artist and cat food to someone with a feline pet. These small gifts send a message that someone cares about their unique needs and recognizes them as individuals.
A Plea For More To Act
Batman fought tears as he admitted to NBC Bay Area, “I know deep down that what I’m doing is not gonna make the difference.” He went on to explain that others who mirror these kind acts are the ones who can make a bigger change.
Spiderman echoed these sentiments, telling the news outlet that he hopes it doesn’t end with him. One thing that defines these heroes is that their definition of success is creating something the doesn’t exalt them but transcends them.
Starting An Emotional Revolution
Nikhil Bhatnagar, aka “Robin,” hopes that Batman’s hard work is the start of a movement. Furthermore, he hopes that people will put on their metaphorical superhero costumes to help change people’s hearts “one kind act at a time.”
Nikhil calls Batman a “revolution unto himself” and adds that it’s one “we need right now.” Batman’s Venmo is Batman-4-Homeless, and his Patreon is Batman of San Jose. Spiderman’s Venmo and Paypal are both under the name thewonandonly.