John Helinski was on the street for three years before a cop and a case worker helped him get his life back.
He used to sleep on a cardboard box next to a bus stop. Now, John Helinski of Tampa, FL has his own place and enough money to live comfortably. And he owes it all to the kindness of strangers.
It all started when Helinski applied for temporary housing at Florida's Community Housing Solutions Center. Unfortunately, they required ID, and all of his identification had been stolen while he was living on the street. But Charles Inman, a case manager with community health provider DACCO, wouldn't let Helinski just be turned away. He told ABC News:
"He needed to have an identification, but we couldn't get an identification without a birth certificate. There was no other option to succeed. You know, the thought of putting a 62-year-old man back on the street wasn't acceptable."
Inman was joined in his mission by Tampa Police Officer Dan McDonald. Together, they got Helinski a driver's license and a Social Security card. It wasn't easy – Helinski was born in Poland but is an American citizen – but they managed. And what they discovered next shocked them all.
Helinski had assumed his Social Security had been cancelled, but it turns out it never stopped. The payments had been piling up in a bank account he had long forgotten even existed. His account at Landmark Bank had become an account at Bank of America, but it was still in his name, and it contained enough money for him to buy permanent housing. All three men were shocked, Helinski most of all. "I guess I'm exhilarated, excited, you know,” he said.
Officer McDonald had this to add: "He has the money now to move into his own home. He deserves it. He's a very good, sweet and genuine man." Don't you love a happy ending?