“Good Morning America” is celebrating ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things for their communities in the "We are GMA" campaign.
An Oklahoma man who turned a downturn in his career into a life-changing opportunity to help others was honored by "Good Morning America."
Larry Bross of Oklahoma City worked in the oil industry until the mid-1980s, when his family fell on hard times and he began reevaluating his life priorities.
"All of Oklahoma was suffering," his wife, Masie Bross, told ABC News. "We lost our business, and we lost our house. When you lose everything ... you start to do some soul searching."
Even while Larry Bross himself didn't have a home to go back to and was staying with friends, he felt compelled to help those even less fortunate than him. He spent his time volunteering at a church breakfast for homeless members of the community.
Masie Bross said he "fell in love with that population, literally like they were his friends."
One morning, while Larry Bross was volunteering, he had an epiphany and decided to abandon his work in the oil business permanently to focus on helping the city's homeless population full time.
He soon raised funds and founded City Care, a transitional housing center to help those who were struggling to get back on their feet.
Becky Harris, a formerly homeless woman who found solace and support in City Care, called the program "a little cradle between these two harsh realities — homelessness and the real world."
"I just want him to know he rebuilt me," Harris said of Larry Bross. "I know for a fact that it saved my life."
With City Care, Larry Bross went on to spearhead projects that built permanent, affordable housing for formerly homeless community members.
Travis Hoffman, a formerly homeless man who spent time at City Care, told ABC News that he now not only owns a home but also owns a business.
"I own a boxing gym. I own a house. I own a car," Hoffman said. "I have a wonderful wife. I have a wonderful daughter ... Now I'm actually a productive member of society because of Larry."
After working at City Care, Larry Bross realized that he needed to get to the root of homelessness and try to prevent it. So he started Whiz Kids, an after school educational program for at-risk children.
Masie Bross described her husband's mission with Whiz Kids as his attempt to "fix poverty and education to end homelessness."
Bianca Tobias, who was once enrolled in Whiz Kids, told ABC News that if it had not been for the program, she "could have been part of that percent that dropped out of school."
"Even though maybe he doesn't remember me or remember my face," Tobias said of Larry Bross. "I want him to know just that he changed my life and he created this want in me to help others and invest in other people."
Today, City Care and Whiz Kids serve thousands of homeless or at-risk Oklahoma City residents. Bross said he's not finished giving back and has started his final project before retiring.
He launched Homes for Heroes, an organization that aims to build affordable housing for veterans, another group at risk for homelessness.
Bross' zeal to alleviate homelessness in his community has touched the lives of hundreds of people, and "GMA," as well as many people Bross has affected with his work, surprised him with a $50,000 check from an anonymous donor to help kick-start Homes for Heroes — as well as 200 Chromebook Plus laptops, donated by Samsung, to boost the Whiz Kids after-school program.
Bross was honored as part of the "We are GMA" campaign, which highlights the work of ordinary people who are doing extraordinary work in their communities.
"If a kid can't read, the chances of success are greatly diminished, so it’s just so important," an emotional Larry Bross told ABC News following the surprise. "Whiz Kids needs to be everywhere."
On the brink of tears, Larry Bross said he wants to thank "everybody" who helped with the surprise, telling ABC News that he felt "a lot" of love.