By Agrippina Fadel
Michael Baney believes everyone deserves kindness and hope, especially during tough times.
His encounter with a homeless man led to a friendship and a GoFundMe campaign to help the man get his life back.
What started as a conversation on a street corner between him and Joe (last name not given), a former trucker who is now homeless, became a friendship, leading to a plan to get Joe off the streets and back on his feet.
Baney, a Retro Fitness owner and Woodmont resident, started a GoFundMe campaign for Joe, initially setting the goal at $1,000. He later changed it to $5000, stating that a thousand dollars would be a “drop in a bucket” for Joe, who lost everything.
Sadly, there have been no donations to the campaign since its launch on December 22.
“I would pass by him on the corner of 80th and McNab many times, and one day I thought he really didn’t look like the barefoot homeless panhandling on the road. He looked put together, and his beard was trimmed. I just went and introduced myself to him,” said Baney.
Joe, 63, was cautious and asked if Baney worked for a homeless shelter or an advocacy group.
“I told him I was just a guy who lives in the neighborhood and asked if he could use a sandwich. So, I made breakfast for him,” said Baney.
He now stops by the wall near the convenience store where Joe sits three-four times a week to talk and offer food and clothes.
Joe lost his job and was evicted after his rent was increased. Formerly living in his pickup truck by Winn Dixie, the car was impounded by the police along with all Joe’s possessions after another homeless person caused a disturbance prompting the owners of the plaza to call authorities.
“Joe is not mentally ill, and he is not an addict or an alcoholic. He is just down on his luck,” said Baney.
Joe doesn’t want to put up a sign asking for money because he thinks that would get the police’s attention. According to Baney, he sits there all day, hoping that kind strangers would come by and offer him work or food. He doesn’t want to panhandle; he wants to do odd jobs.
A Tamarac resident for 13 years, Joe is afraid to open a bank account because he owes the IRS $50,000 but hopes to improve his current situation to be in a position where someone would hire him.
Baney said the campaign was Joe’s idea because he heard about another homeless person in a similar situation who GoFundMe helped.
Baney had high expectations for this campaign, but unfortunately, no one responded. He hopes the community comes together to help Joe.
“Here is someone who lives in the same city as us and who found himself on the streets in a very short period. This is just bad luck, and it could be any of us. It is up to us to help a fellow man when we can.”
- Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master's in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.
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