The man with mental health problems was finally reunited with his family after he went missing for 10 years.
Family really is everything. Most people believe that homeless people have been rejected or disowned by their families. People assume that they have cut all ties with family for whatever the reason may be but that isn't always the case. Sometimes, circumstances just drive them to where they are in life due to which they aren't in regular touch with their families. However, a non-profit organization Miracle Messages proves that in numerous cases families want to be reconnected, they just don’t know how to go about it or need assistance to facilitate such a meeting. This charity aims at helping homeless people get back in touch with their families. The charity was founded in 2014 by Kevin Fadler.
People from the organization frequently head out into the streets to help the homeless people. They talk to them and find out if any of them are interested in reconnecting with their families. If the people actually are interested in getting back in touch, they record a message for their loved ones after which the staff of the organization sets out on their mission to find the families of these hopeful people. They search particularly for the relative the recorded message was meant for.
The organization's headquarters is located in San Fransico, California. It has helped people from across the country reconnect with their families in the country and even out of the US. There are around 40 regular volunteers working at the organization. There is further a closed group of around 1,300 volunteers who solve cases together on Facebook. Till date, the organization has helped 204 families become whole again.
Jessica Donig, executive director of Miracle Messages spoke to Unilad about how these people are forced by circumstances to be disconnected by the people that mean the most to them. Family is an important part of everyone's life. In some cases, people who are considered to be family are not necessarily related by blood, it is more about the bond than the blood relation. She explained there are a number of reasons people lose touch, including digital access barriers, bureaucratic barriers, economic dislocation, and emotional barriers, such as fear and shame.
Jessica said, "People experiencing homelessness just don’t have great access to digital tools. Many people experiencing homelessness don’t have consistent access to a phone or a computer, and they lose touch because they don’t know how to access information. Most service providers cannot confirm or deny whether a person experiencing homelessness is receiving services at a given facility or service center."
She continued, "Given the fact that people who are experiencing homelessness don’t have a consistent mailing address and often don’t have a consistent phone number, this barrier can lead to disconnection. Economic dislocation causes people to move around, which may cause their contact information to change. Combined with the two factors above, this can lead to disconnection. Many people experiencing homelessness are ashamed, embarrassed or fearful of reaching out. Some may have had disputes that led to disconnection, and don’t know how their loved ones will respond if they try to reach out."
With the help of the charity, Laveta Carney and her uncle Timothy, who disappeared out of the blue following the death of his mother finally met each other after a decade! Timothy has mental health problems; when his mum passed away he walked out of their Chicago house and never returned. 37-year-old Laveta explained that Timothy had a habit of forgetting things and his thoughts were sometimes incorrect, or completely made up. Laveta and her mother tried to find the missing man, searching the streets, shelters, hospitals, and jails for years but they were unsuccessful.
"I was in the military so I couldn’t look for him like I wanted to, but still every time I came home or talked to my mom I would ask her if they found him or heard from him," Laveta said. "It was devastating because every time we heard of a John Doe being found dead we didn’t know what to think." Then, one day in 2017, Laveta’s mother received a Facebook message from Miracle Messages. It had been over ten years since they were disconnected from Timothy. Thanks to the charity, they finally found him. At first, they thought it was some kind of joke, they couldn't believe that Timothy was coming back into their lives.
"When I got home we called the number together. Even then we thought it was someone playing games because still, we hadn’t talked to Timothy or even had any proof they knew where he was," Laveta said. "After a couple days we asked if they could allow us to talk to him and they told us that they would try once he came in."
Timothy found himself living on the streets around 2,000 miles away in California. After trying really hard, he was able to remember some things. Luckily, it was enough information that helped lead the volunteers at the charity straight to his family. He sent a message through the charity simply telling his relatives he wanted to come home. The charity then organized a bus ticket for 54-year-old Timothy to get back to Chicago. However, he wandered off again. Laveta was soon informed about this. However, the charity was able to track him down again in no time. Laveta then decided to come down to California to pick Timothy up herself.
Laveta explained how grateful she was to the charity. She said, "Timothy’s mental health conditions make every day a challenge, and it’s hard, but him being able to be around family without judgment and with unconditional love is important. We cherish family and we do what we need to do to help one another. Without Miracle Messages we would still be looking, hope silently slipping away as time goes by." "Timothy was lost for many years. The search is over and he is home, all because someone other than us cared. Someone took it upon themselves to help someone they don’t know find their family. Someone put someone else first, and that someone is Miracle Messages."