Police officer reunites homeless man with his family after 60 years
This homeless man had been begging for money for decades when a police officer came to his rescue.
Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy Jacob Swalwell had seen the homeless man begging at one of the busiest freeway off-ramps in the city for many years.
As reported by ABC7, Swalwell had reprimanded him a number of times, and this time planned to give him a ticket when he realized just how unhelpful that would be.
When Swalwell asked the man for ID, the man, who identified himself as Michael Myers, said that he had none. Rather than get angry at the man, Swalwell instead decided to sit down and have a conversation with the man to see if he could help.
Myers had been living in Alameda county his entire life, and had had a job as a truck driver. But a bad accident had changed his life, and he had spent a year in a wheelchair, and another on crutches.
When he was finally able to look for work again, he found that working in manufacturing and food service caused him immense pain as he spent hours on his feet lifting heavy objects. As such, he was unable to keep a job.
Eventually, Myers lost everything, and had to turn to begging to survive.
"He does it three times a day," Swalwell said. "He's not panhandling for alcohol or drugs -- he's panhandling to stay alive."
Myers formed a routine in which he would beg at all four sides of the intersection as the lights changed until he had about $5-$10, then walk to the McDonald's or Wendy's nearby to get something to eat.
After so many years, begging for money and eating fast food had become his only means of survival, and it was his daily routine.
"He said, 'You can't go on doing this,'" Myers said of his conversation with Swalwell. "'What's it gonna take to get you off the street?' I said, 'Well, a government check would do it, but I can't seem to get one.'"
In order to receive benefits, Myers needed a state issued ID, which was something he hadn't had in many years since he had stopped driving. So Swalwell decided to take him to the DMV rather than write him a ticket.
There, they discovered that he was no longer in the system. He would need proof of residency and his birth certificate to get an ID, both of which would be difficult to obtain when he lived on the streets and never knew his birth parents.
Swalwell again stepped in to help him get the necessary documentation. They got a letter from the local church attesting that Myers lives in the Hayward area, and a copy of his birth certificate from the Highland Hospital where he was born.
His birth certificate also contained another surprise in the form of a first name he had never known he had had: Gordon.
Three trips to the DMV later, and Myers finally had a California Senior Citizen ID card, something which he delightedly held up for a photo with Officer Swalwell. The photo of the pair quickly went viral on Facebook.
"I walked in McDonalds to eat breakfast, and the guys I usually sit with go, 'Hey, you're famous, man!' and whipped out his phone and there I am on his phone," Myers said.
As a result of Swalwell's help, Myers is now one step closer to getting social security, and, as a result of his Facebook fame, even has some job offers!