CityView Magazine

November 2021

CityView Magazine - Fayetteville, NC

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Page 23 of 69

20 November 2021 W hy is it that some of the most giving people have endured the most pain? ey know what it is like to go without, to suffer unspeakable loss, but also to survive and thrive. e more they are knocked down, the more they get up and give. Sharing their light. Pornjai "PJ" Smith, the unofficial godmother of Person Street, is one of those special people. At her PJ ai Cuisine, a convenience store-turned-restaurant across from the Cumberland County Courthouse, the woman known as "Ms. PJ" or "Mom" cooks for everyone from high-powered attorneys and business leaders to people who are without homes, hope or happiness. She intuitively feels their sorrows. She offers encouraging words with no judgment. MAKING AN IMPACT PJ Smith serves hope and a 'humble heart' in her downtown Fayetteville restaurant BY JANET GIBSON PHOTOGRAPHY BY RAUL RUBIERA JR. FA SCI NAT I NG FAYETT EVILLE NOW HIRING At 5-feet-2-inches tall, Ms. PJ is small in stature, but a giant to many who have been recipients of her kindness. "Pay what you can, when you can," she says to those who have fallen on hard times, as she discreetly hands over a container filled with delicious food. Because she too knows what it is like to be hungry. Several people have returned months later to pay full price for their meals. e once displaced say they now have shelter and jobs. A recovering addict says he recently completed rehab and is striving to stay clean. A former prostitute, trained as a nurse, has gone back to the healthcare profession. ey

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