Every day in our country, there are so many bad things happening like shooting, violence, theft—but there are still kind and respectful people helping others. The following story is about a policeman and a caseworker who helped a homeless man find his happiness.
John Helinski, 62, spent three years living on the streets of Tampa Bay in a cardboard box. But now, thanks to a newly discovered bank account with the help of two officers, Helinski has enough money to afford a place of his own.
Helinsk was born in Poland, but he is a US citizen with a driver’s license and a social security number. However, John’s personal identification had been stolen while he was on the streets. For years, John had to manage on his own, sleep under a bench, and he seemed invisible to passers-by.
He attempted to apply for a spot at a homeless shelter. When he went to the Community Housing Solutions Center in Florida to get temporary housing, they told him he needed to prove his identity, reports Spotlight Stories.
Tampa Police Department Officer Daniel McDonald, together with Charles Inman of Drug Abuse and Comprehensive Coordinating Office Inc, worked to help Helinsk recover all his identification documents.
“As a homeless liaison officer, the bread and butter of my work often involve hopping department to department trying to help homeless people find the ID they need in order to get things like work and housing,” McDonald told ABC Action News.
Inman and McDonald were determined to find out more and dug further into Helinski’s background.
“He needed to have an identification, but we couldn’t get an identification without a birth certificate,” Inman told the Florida station, adding that the thought of putting Helinski back on the street was not “acceptable.”
“John was born in Poland, so it made it even more difficult for him to get a new ID,” McDonald told PEOPLE. “I helped him out and said, ‘We will figure this out and get you a bed.'”
McDonald said that first, he drove Helinski to the local tax collector’s office to get a temporary State of Florida ID card.
Then with Helinski’s consular birth certificate and temporary ID, they went to the Social Security office.
Helinski said that he used to get benefits but that he thought they had been canceled.
What a surprise, when eventually, Helinski’s temporary ID card gave him access to his account, and he discovered an old bank account with enough money to buy him a home. McDonald said that they were both stunned, and John was ‘exhilarated and excited.’
The undisclosed sum would be sufficient to cover John’s rent and food expenses without his needing to work. McDonald hoped that by sharing his experience, other homeless people would be encouraged to seek help.
“We’re uniformed cops with police cars, but we want homeless people to trust us,” he said. “Our job is not to arrest someone. It’s to help them. Homeless people are still accountable to the law, but they’re now starting to see we can be trusted, and this new model and field of policing are gaining popularity very quickly, I think.”
The story of Helinski happened in 2015, but it has left unforgettable impressions about honest people. Good luck to Helinski and other homeless persons.