30 Years on the Streets
For over 30 years, Mick Myers lived on the streets of California struggling to survive. Weary and haggard from the bright and burning sun, Myers soon found himself having run-ins with the law in Alameda County due to his panhandling. However, he risked his safety and his freedom in order to make enough money to fill his belly on a daily basis.
An Unexpected Encounter
When on sheriff decided to issue Myers a citation, neither men had any idea it would be the beginning of a life-changing journey for them. One filled with heartache, facing the past and finding one’s true identity.
This story is sure to warm your heart.
A Promising Start
Mick Myers didn’t start out on the wrong side of the tracks. In fact, when he was an infant he was adopted by a loving family in San Leandro, California. Growing up he was easy-going, loved playing in the marching band, and had a nice group of friends.
Unfortunately, things at home were less than stellar.
Adoptive Family Ups and Downs
While Myers’ adoptive parents tried to make him feel like he was part of the family, not everyone was happy to have him around. His mother tried to be affectionate, but his siblings rejected him.
No Sibling Connection
Despite his best efforts, his adoptive siblings ignored him completely. Eventually, Myers began to cut himself off from his friends and the outside world, becoming a quiet introvert. He often felt isolated and alone, and according to Myers, this feeling followed him into his adulthood.
Lost and Alone
As Myers got older, he lost contact with his friends and described life as “living life as alone as a person could possibly be.” His relationship with his family fell apart when he found out he was adopted at the age of 16. While this explained why his siblings were distant, it didn’t help the situation.
And then tragedy struck…
Cutting All Ties
Myers’ adoptive parents suddenly passed away. After their deaths, his siblings who never liked him to begin shut him out entirely. Realizing he was never really family to them, Myers cut all ties and went out on his own. Now, he would have to survive alone and try to make a life for himself.
Living a Solitary Life on the Road
With no ties to anyone, Myers ended up taking a job as a truck driver. It was the perfect job for a loner like him. He enjoyed getting lost in his thoughts while on the open road. However, it only furthered his social isolation.
A Drastic Change of Events
Unfortunately, the open road eventually took a toll on Myers’ mental state. He ended up losing his job and with no other source of income, he lost everything. Before long, Myers was living on the streets with no one to turn to.
Barely Getting By
Myers would spend the next 30 years living on the streets of San Leandro, California. He would play his guitar and panhandle in an effort to make enough money for a hot meal. Sadly, the locals didn’t take kindly to him and he found himself passed by most of the time.
Begging for Money
Begging for money didn’t bring in enough cash to live off of. As months on the streets turned to years, homelessness became the new normal for Myers. Hope soon diminished, and Myers believed he would live and die on the streets without a roof over his head.
Thankfully, fate had other plans.
A Kind Sheriff
Deputy Sheriff Jacob Swalwell had encountered Myers panhandling in Alameda County on more than one occasion. He had warned him about begging people for money while trying to show him a kindness the rest of the public seemed to neglect.
Serious Action Needed
Unfortunately, Myers did not heed Swalwell’s warnings. He noticed that despite warning him multiple times, Myers continued to beg for money in town. Swalwell knew his options were running out, and it was time to give Myers a final warning.
One Last Warning
Believing he had to make things official, Swalwell decided to file a formal citation. He asked Myers for his ID and was informed that he didn’t have one. “I had given him so many warnings, and I asked him for his ID and he said he didn’t have an ID. And I immediately asked, ‘Why don’t you have an ID?’”
A Life-Changing Conversation
Swalwell and Myers soon began to converse about his life. The sheriff soon learned that Myers wasn’t some criminal vagrant trying to cause trouble. He didn’t have an addiction nor was he homeless because of a vice. He was simply a man who had lost his family and had been given no direction in his life.
“I learned more, that he was disabled and had been homeless for 30 years. He was not an alcoholic, he did not use drugs, he did not use tobacco. He was just a senior citizen on his own,” Swalwell told CBS news.
Swalwell wanted to help him, but what options were there for Myers?
Since Myers didn’t have a home, he was unable to collect social security or any type of benefits. In order to receive any assistance, he needed an ID. Thankfully, luck was on Myers side and his situation was about to change drastically.
A Desire to Help
Swalwell couldn’t help but be touched by Myers story. He realized he needed to help this man and was willing to put in the work needed to getting him an ID. Even if it was only the first step to get him off the streets, it would be more than worth it.
Unfortunately, getting an ID would prove easier said than done.
A Little More Complicated Than Expected
Most of us can attest to the fact that the DMV is no picnic. The lines are long and as Myers would soon discover, obtaining an ID is a lot more complicated than it sounds. Almost immediately Swalwell and Myers hit a roadblock.
Despite having a driver’s license when he was a truck driver, the DMV had no record of Myers in their system. The clerk informed the men that to obtain a new ID he would have to submit a large stack of paperwork. Sadly, most of the documentation Myers wouldn’t be able to produce, for example, proof of residency.
However, Swalwell was not going to give up that easily.
Discouragement Sets In
Myers found himself quickly losing hope. He was used to being met with adversity in his life. Why should this situation be any different? Thankfully, Swalwell was there to encourage him and not let him admit defeat.
Giving Up is NOT an Option
Realizing he needed more help, Swalwell enlisted the help of his personal pastor. They needed to track down all of the documents Myers needed for his proof of residence. Together, they set out to make it happen.
Tracking Down the Birth Certificate
Swalwell worked tirelessly to track down Myers’ birth certificate. It took some digging, but he eventually found it. The certificate even had the name he was given by his birth parents: Gordon Michael Oakley.
With the documentation ready, Myers could finally get the ID he needed.
Success At Last!
After what seemed impossible, Myers finally obtained his personal identification. Soon the news would catch wind of his story and featured him as a local feature. They were amazed by Swalwell’s kindness. “We both realized at the same time that there is a real person there and not just the stereotype we saw when we first met each other,” Myers told reporters.
A Force for Change
Swalwell told CBS, “If it’s something as simple as helping them just to get them back on their feet by getting them an ID so they can get some state or government, federal benefits, then it’s the least we can be doing as law enforcement officers.”
A Special Someone Takes Notice
The story piqued the interest of private investigator, Mark Askins. Interested in Myers story, Askins decided to reunite Myers with his family. Using a box of old ledgers and Myers’ birth name, Askins tirelessly searched for any living relatives.
Then the unthinkable happened…
Askins located Myers’ birth mother, Marie Pauline Oakley. Her story was one of heartache and tribulations. She had met a sailor named Wiley at 16 and had a whirlwind romance before getting married in Reno. Sadly, the honeymoon didn’t last long and Marie found herself living in a cabin in Tennessee.
Struggling to Survive
The cabin was in shambles, Marie recalled. Even worse, her husband gave all his naval pay to his mother, leaving her with nothing to care for herself or their newborn baby. “There was a bed for me to sleep in, but there was no crib for the baby. I had to put two chairs together and put a food locker on it,” she described.
No Choice But to Let Go
Marie would eventually leave her husband, now with a toddler and pregnant with Myers. After returning to California to live with her mother, she struggled to get by for two years. When Myers developed a hole in his stomach at the age of two, she knew she couldn’t care for him the way he deserved. At the urging of her mother, Marie made the difficult decision to give Myers up for adoption a local couple at a church.
A Reunion 65 Years in the Making
Marie had always wondered what happened to her son and now in his 60’s they were about to be reunited after a lifetime apart. Askins made initial contact with Marie and when she found out he had found her son she was overjoyed. At first, Myers and Marie connected via the phone, but soon they would be together.
A Loving Family At Last
Once Marie and Myers were reunited, their bond was almost immediate. While there, Myers had the opportunity to meet his extended family. Now, he plans to eventually move closer to them after securing a job and collecting his social security.
And it was all thanks to the kindness of one stranger, who chose to look beyond his circumstances and see him for the man he truly was.