A compassionate message from a neighbor, at the right time

LOS ANGELES -- Whenever evil claims a victory, as it did in Manchester, people search for words of hope. And this week that search led many back deep into their childhood -- to Mr. Rogers' neighborhood, of all places.

It was Mr. Fred Rogers who once said, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"

Thousands shared that quote on social media this week, including a senior writer from Entertainment Weekly named Anthony Breznican.

"That quote almost seems too good to be true, right?" he said. "Whenever you see these quotes, it'll be Abraham Lincoln saying something" that he never really said.

"Mr. Rogers said that. And I knew, from experience, that Mr. Rogers was like that in real life," Anthony said.

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Anthony Breznican

CBS News

Which is why, when Anthony shared the quote, he added a personal story from when he was in college that made it all the more poignant.

On Twitter, he began, "I was struggling, lonely, dealing with a lot of broken pieces and not adjusting well."

Then one day he said he walked into an empty commons with the TV on.

"And there was Mr. Rogers. I just stood there mesmerized," he said.

He watched the entire episode and felt a little better, but says the real fix came a few days later.

"I'm going downstairs to the lobby of the student union and the elevator opens and Mr. Rogers is standing there. And I just got in the elevator and he said, 'Were you one of my television neighbors?' And I was like, 'Yes, I was one of your neighbors!'" he said.

Anthony told him about how he had just watched the show and how it made him feel better.

 "He sat down and he said, 'Would you like to tell me what was upsetting you?' I didn't have anybody that I could talk to like that," he said.

"I feel like his trolley car. I fell off the tracks, he put me back on, and that was all I needed. And at one point I said, 'I'm really sorry, I hope I'm not tying you up and you have somewhere else to go.' And he said, 'Sometimes you're in just the right place,'" Anthony continued.

Mr. Rogers was in just the right place again this week, reminding us to look for the helpers -- the first responders, the global leaders and caring neighbors across the world -- who still outnumber evil a million to one.

To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, email us: OnTheRoad@cbsnews.com. 

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.