BALTIMORE — Kerry Hawk-Lessard says until last week she never would have thought twice about helping the squeegee kids she passes daily in the city.
"I was on high alert. It was very intimidating," Hawk-Lessard said.
She was stopped at North Gay Street and Orleans in the middle of rush hour traffic.
"I was waiting at the intersection and a younger kid approached me and I told him not to squeegee. I said if you've got a Cash app, I'd write it down and send it to you later. The minute, I said that it triggered him, yelling 'Yo she got Cash app!" Hawk-Lessard said.
Within seconds, her car was surrounded.
"Three adults approached my car, they were leaning into my car, had my phone. I was holding my phone. They opened the camera on my phone and the other gentleman had the QR codes and one by one they were accepting hundreds and hundreds of dollars, and just drained my account of close to $2,000 in a span of five minutes," Hawk-Lessard explained.
Shocked, and hurt, is how Hawk-Lessard describes her experience.
This is her hometown, she was born and raised in Pigtown, works as a community activist in the Native American community and is always willing to help those in need.
"I'm the kind of person who packs groceries that I would give to the homeless people," Hawk-Lessard said.
Hawk-Lessard said she was burnt once she let her guard down.
"I've always resented the rhetoric that has been used about the squeegee boys. I always thought that it was unfair and so I let my guard down," said Hawk-Lessard. "I tried to overcompensate . It just hurt that someone was intentionally exploiting my kindness. I'd already offered to do something for them and here they were smiling in my face knowing that they were draining my bank account."
She thinks the squeegee boys need to go, and Hawk-Lessard says arm them with skills to get them off street corners and into jobs.
While she's learned a painful lesson, she will still give from her heart, just not from her car window.
"I'm just going to donate to charities that I know will help folks. That's the way I'm going to go about things moving forward," Hawk-Lessard said.