Mick Myers had a difficult childhood and eventually found himself living on the streets for the majority of his adult life. He was completely disregarded by the people he once called his family, friends, and even by society as a whole.
But then, one county deputy sheriff gave Myers the chance to get his life back on track. With his help and that of a devoted volunteer, Myers was able to get off the streets. Not only that, but he was reconnected with someone he thought was gone from his life forever.
Mick Didn't Even Know His Real Name As A Child
Born in 1950, all Mick Myers knows is that he was adopted by a family from San Leandro, California when he was two years old. In fact, he didn't even know if "Mick Meyers" was his real name.
As a child, Myers earned decent grades and participated in his high school marching band. Unfortunately, things turned sour as he grew up. As a teenager, he had trouble getting along with his siblings who he felt they treated him as an outsider.
Disowned By His Family
After the passing of his adoptive parents, his siblings and another extended family turned their backs on Myers, disowning him. Unfortunately, this isn't uncommon for adopted children. It happened around the same time that Myers began to have a falling out with his childhood friends from San Leandro as well.
It didn't take long for Myers to find himself without a job or a support system. He felt that any of his purpose in life had been ripped out from under him.
He Landed A Job
Amazingly, Myers finally found a job that he enjoyed as a truck driver. He enjoyed the job so much because it allowed him to travel and gave his life some much-needed structure. Even though he was constantly moving around, he still had a driving schedule that he followed every day and became close with his co-workers.
Although he held the job down for some time, Myer's was faced with a tragedy that would result in him becoming homeless once again. It would also undo any of the progress he had made in turning his life around.
The Crash That Left Him Broken
Myers thoroughly enjoyed his time as a truck driver, but unfortunately, he was involved in a serious car accident. The crash resulted in Myers breaking his back, sending him to the hospital for several weeks.
Even after leaving the hospital, Myers was confined to a wheelchair for the next year and was only rehabilitated enough to walk around on crutches. However, the worst of it all was that he realized he wouldn't be able to work as a truck driver anymore.
At 67, Mick Had And Spent The Majority Of His Life Homeless
At the age of 67, this man survived alone on the streets and without any help from his family or the government. By panhandling and playing his guitar on the side of the street, he barely made enough money to survive on the streets. In 2017, he was 67 years old and had spent the majority of his life homeless.
Of course, he isn't alone, with 25% of the United State's homeless population living in California. In 2017, it was also estimated by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that the number of homeless in America is over 554,000 people.
One Fateful Day He Met Deputy Sheriff Jacob Swalwell
In November 2017, the homeless man ran into Deputy Sheriff Jacob Swalwell beside a freeway in Hayward, California. However, this was not their first time meeting each other. The junction was one of the homeless man's hangout areas where he would panhandle and play the guitar, a busy area where Swalwell had repeatedly asked him not to beg.
The 33-year-old officer had only ever given the man warnings and had never had a real conversation with the man. All he knew was that he was a homeless man who frequently begged on Foothill Boulevard.
Some Compassion Goes A Long Way
At one point, Swalwell had intended to give the man a citation for continuing to panhandle on the corner he was warned not to. Of course, the homeless man didn't have an ID to provide which got the two men talking.
The homeless man ended up telling the deputy all about his family, disability, and life on the street. Without an ID, the man wasn't eligible for social security, something that made his life on the streets that much more difficult. He had remained undocumented for the majority of his life.
Still Looking For Employment
Even though he was injured, Myers knew that he still needed to work if he wanted to survive. However, his back condition made many jobs almost impossible, even if they wouldn't have been that hard for someone healthy.
Most jobs that he applied for required him to be on his feet for hours, which would have caused him great pain. He skipped around between manufacturing and food service positions and even worked at the DMV for some time.
Lending A Hand
Myers elaborated that he couldn't get an ID even if he wanted one, because he didn't have any of the required documents. This excluded him from receiving any government support.
Swalwell couldn't help but feel sorry for Myers, stating: "you've got someone to help you now. I will help you get an ID, so you can get social security and get off the streets." Myers was deeply thankful for Swalwell's kindness, and this marked the beginning of their friendship.
Considering that there are thousands of homeless in California, it begs the question: why did Swalwell decide to personally help Myers over anyone else? As it turns out, Swalwell claims he felt that Myers was being "truthful and sincere," something policemen don't always necessarily experience while on their beat.
Something else that made Swalwell believe Myers' story was that he had never spent the money he made on controlled substances. He would barely make enough money to get a meal at nearby fast food restaurants, so that's what he spent all his money on.
Swalwell Got Straight To Work
Deputy Swalwell wasted in no time in getting Myers the proper help that he needed. His first stop was the DMV to see if he could retrace Myers records and learn at what point they had been lost. Unfortunately, even though Myers was a former DMV employee, it looked as though his records had been erased.
Now, in order to be issued a government ID, Myers would need to acquire a birth certificate, as well as proof that he was a resident of California. Swalwell knew how difficult this process would be and asked, "How does a homeless person come up with two forms of residency?".
Others Helped To Get Myers Back On Track
Swalwell's next stop was to enlist the help of his church pastor and other members of the Alameda Sheriff's Department. They helped to provide Myers' with proof of residency by signing off on the necessary documents. Simultaneously, Swalwell got started got to work on Myers' birth certificate, following a paper trail back to the hospital where he was born.
In the end, the deputy managed to get his hands on the birth certificate and turned in all of the necessary paperwork to the DMV. After jumping through countless bureaucratic hoops, Myers was able to get an ID in December 2017.
A Secret Identity
After going through all of Myers' documents, it was discovered that Mick wasn't Myer's given birth name, but was a shortened version of his middle name. Myers' real name at birth was Gordon Michael Oakley, something Myers was completely unaware of. By now, local media had caught onto the story and approached Swalwell for more information.
People soon became interested in the police officer who was helping a homeless man get off the streets. The story helped raise awareness about other forms of help that Myers would need.
Mark Askins Volunteered To Help
Mark Askins, an experienced private investigator, heard about Myers' story and immediately became interested. For some time, he had volunteered for the charity Miracle Messages, which helped reunite homeless individuals with their long-lost family and friends.
He reached out to Swalwell and offered his services to help find Myers' biological family, well-aware of the difficulties that would stand in his way. He felt that his help might greatly increase Myers' chances of actually getting off the streets and knew Miracle Messages could help.
Myers Had No Contact With The Outside World
Many homeless people have a difficult time reaching out to their families. Whether it's due to their own shame, lack of knowledge and limited technology, mental disability, or countless other reasons, many rely on volunteers like Askins for help.
Just like countless other homeless individuals, Myers had fallen off of the grid, with nobody knowing where to find him even if they wanted to. On top of that, he was out of the loop in regard to technology and hadn't had access to any of the latest innovations such as the Internet or cell phones since the 1980s.
Tracking Down Information
Using the information that was provided by Swalwell, Mark Askins got to work. With just Myers' real birth name, date, place, and his mother's first name, he began looking through the documents at the Alameda county courthouse, hoping to find any surviving relatives.
When a baby is born today, their information is meticulously recorded in a computer database. Back in the 1950s, that wasn't the case. While their information was written down, it wasn't nearly as organized. In fact, many of the records from the first half of the 20th century still haven't been digitized or been made available to the public.
They Found Useful Information
Eventually, Askin's persistence paid off. He found a case file at the courthouse about a young woman named Marie Pauline Oakley who had married a man named Wiley Albert Oakley. The two had a small wedding in Reno before returning to Alameda with a child who became known as Mick Myers.
The couple eventually had their wedding annulled and went separate ways, leaving their child up for adoption. It didn't take long for Askins to learn who Myers' biological father was and that he had passed away years earlier.
Locating His Mother
After learning the identity of Myer's biological mother, it was time to learn what had happened to her. Her name wasn't particularly uncommon and given her age, there was a strong possibility that she could be dead. After a few weeks of searching, Askins discovered a Marie Pauline Oakley living in Eureka, California.
Askins decided to go out on a limb and give the number a call. When he did, an elderly woman answered the phone. Mrs. Oakley was alive and 85 years old! However, she was currently going by her middle name, Pauline.
The Reason Behind The Adoption
It didn't take long for Askins to bring up Myers to Pauline. She was shocked to hear of him and had wondered for all the years what had happened to her son. She explained that Myers, who was then named Gordon, was born with a hole in his stomach, a life-threatening condition.
Although she worked multiple jobs and did everything she could, she could no longer keep up with the medical bills. She had made the tough decision that giving him up for adoption was the best option to assure he had a quality shot at life.
First Contact Between A Mother And Her Son
After Pauline gave up her son for adoption, he was put in the care of his future adoptive parents, who attended the same church. While she had second thoughts about her decision, she stuck to her decision for the sake of the child.
When Askins first contacted Pauline about Myers, she made it clear that she was eager to reconnect with her long-lost son. In March 2018, Pauline and Myers spoke on the phone for the first time, but their communication didn't stop there.
Going To Meet His Mother
Just a few weeks after talking on the phone for the first time, Myers flew in a small plane to Eureka to meet his mother, with Askins and Swalwell providing emotional support. He was given up for adoption at two and had no recollection of his birth mother.
When the plane landed, they were greeted by Myers' niece, Shannon, another surprise for him. Shannon then drove Myers, Askins, and Swalwell to the home of Pauline Oakley.
Upon arriving at Pauline's home, Myer's was greeted by his birth mother for the first time since he was just two years old. The two met each other with a long embrace, regardless of the fact that they hadn't seen each other in over 60 years.
The mother and son both cried in each other's arms, neither having ever thought that they would see the other again. Especially after living on the streets for so long, this was a touching moment for Myers.
Catching Up On Lost Time
After their embrace, Myers and his mother sat down to catch up on their more than 50 years of being apart. Pauline pulled out some old photo albums to show Myers pictures of herself, her mother, his siblings, and even Myers himself as a baby. It didn't take long for him to realize that his mother had led a hard life as well.
In turn, Myers told his own life story starting from his time with his adoptive family and how grateful he was for them. He also talked about his estranged adoptive relatives and his many struggles throughout his life.
Pauline Was Shocked
Of course, Pauline was devastated to hear about all of the struggles her son had faced throughout his life. She spent her years hoping that he was doing fine, so to hear this wasn't the case was very hard to hear.
She explained to KPIX-5, "I just get so sad when I think of the things I got to do with his siblings and with their children. All the experiences they've had, things they have done. The advantages they’ve enjoyed. And I got so sad when he told me how he had been mistreated. The emotional abuse of never being accepted."
A True Family Reunion
Since the passing of his adoptive parents, Myers finally felt like he was accepted and had a family that loved and supported him. He got more family than he could have ever even imagined including a mother, siblings, nephews, nieces, and more! They were all quick to accept Myers into the family.
After meeting his biological family, Myers moved in with his mother, officially part of the family. He also now has health insurance and was able to apply so social security thanks to the help of his new friend, deputy Jacob Swalwell.
They Couldn't Be Happier
Pauline and her son have both expressed their gratitude for the help from officer Swalwell and private inspector Askins. When Swalwell first entered the home, Pauline asked him to turn around. Confused, he did as he was asked with Pauline saying "I wanted to see where your wings are because you've brought my son home to me, you are an angel."
After first meeting Myers, Pauline told him that "to have you here puts a piece of my heart back. It means the world to me." Myers responded by saying, "I've always wondered all these years why things turned out the way they did. This wondering has disappeared now." It was clear that the family was meant to be together once again -- all thanks to the help of Jacob Swalwell and Mark Askins.
It Wouldn't Have Been Possible Without Help
When telling the story of Myers reuniting with his mother and the rest of his biological family, it's important to remember that it wouldn't have been possible without the help of Alameda County Sheriff's Department officers and Miracle Messages.
They helped to raise money to fly Myers out to meet his mother as well as to get him back on his feet. The Sheriff's Department even started a GoFundMe, raising over $2,000 to put toward food, housing, clothing, and anything else he may need.
This photo of a man named Johnny Rhodes went viral after Facebook users saw how much he was suffering. It was taken on the streets of Indianapolis. The social media posts encouraged citizens to find Rhode's family, with his picture being shared over 1,000 times.
Amazingly, the picture made its way to Rhode's brother, Danny, who recognized him. Unfortunately, since Rhodes was homeless, he proved to be difficult to find. Only time would tell if he would be reunited with his brother.
Searching For Johnny Rhodes
Determined to find his brother, Danny Rhodes made a Facebook page called "Looking For Johnny Rhodes." There was little activity for months, with many of the sightings turning out to be false alarms. Then, somebody saw Johnny and immediately contacted his brother on Facebook. Johnny and Danny were reunited just two days later. Johnny managed to get off the streets for good.
According to the Facebook page, Johnny has "two meals [a day], a shower, a pair of clean clothes, a room to himself with quiet, a king size bed, tv w/ cable, fridge, a microwave, Pepsi, & leftovers. He is safe, and resting."
Isaac Avila, otherwise known as Chico, was a 65-year-old man living on the streets of Miami, Florida. With the help of a volunteer named Gaby from Miracle Messages, his life was going to change forever. With her help, he recorded a video in the hopes that it would reach his sister Guadalupe.
He told her how much he loved and missed her. Sure enough, Guadeloupe eventually saw the video and reunited with her brother. After reuniting with his sister, he moved off the streets and now lives with her and her children.
Jose Antonia Suffered From Mental Illness
For most of his adult life, Spanish native Jose Antonia lived on the streets in Palma. Although he had been trained in a technical field, it wasn't his lack of effort that constantly landed him on the streets.
Unfortunately, he struggled with mental illness which made it difficult for him to live normally and form a routine that would be conducive to someone working full time. Instead, he found himself frequently living on the streets.
A Known Member Of The Community
For almost 25 years Jose was a local trademark of Palma. Although locals familiar with his presence knew who he was, many would typically carry on with their daily lives, not giving him a second thought. However, a group of the locals took a liking to Jose, and even gave him the affectionate nickname "Josete."
As the years went on, those who cared for Jose began to devise a plan to get him back on his feet, although Jose had no knowledge of their plan. They didn't want to get his hopes up until it was a sure thing.
He Tried His Best To Earn Money
At just 30 years old, Jose lost his home and found himself living on the streets. But he didn't give up entirely and did his best to make any money that he could. He worked small jobs for meager wages, even working as a parking attendant in Mallorca for some time.
Most of his money went towards buying food, although it wasn't enough to put a roof over his head.
An Offer He Couldn't Refuse
After almost 25 years of being homeless, Jose had grown used to his life on streets. Although he was 55 years old, he looked much older due to his living conditions. His hair was long and his beard was shaggy, adding decades to his look.
But after being approached by Salva, he was going to hopefully get out of his less-than-ideal situation. Salva was the owner of a salon called 'La Salvajeria,' and offered Jose the opportunity to have a complete makeover with no charge at all.
A Whole New Look Was Needed
Salva recognized that Jose would need a completely new look if he ever wanted to find success in a professional career once again. She also understood that it would take more than just a haircut and a shave to get him back on his feet and in order to be taken seriously.
After making it clear that she would be covering the cost of the makeover, Jose gladly accepted Salva's offer. He was ready to change his life.
Taking The First Step
Upon entering the salon, Jose felt extremely uncomfortable. For 25 years he had remained on the streets with such an establishment being completely out of his reach. He felt that he didn't belong in such a nice place, especially since he wasn't paying.
While he may have thought about going back on his decision to accept the offer, he knew this was the first step in changing his life. So, he calmed himself, knowing how beneficial this experience would be.
Saying Goodbye To Mirrors
Before starting the makeover process, Jose stared at himself for a long time, knowing that he probably wouldn't even recognize himself after. Then, all of the mirrors were taken down in the salon so that Jose would only see the final results.
Jose then asked, "Leave the doors over the mirror open for the moment so I can see myself for the last time like this, then close them to see if when they open again, it's as if something else really opened up in my life, like a symbol."
Looking Good, Feeling Better
When Jose first entered the salon, his hair was long and gray, reaching down to his shoulders. His beard was also unkempt too, which wasn't only uncomfortable but unprofessional.
Of course, for the past 25 years, Jose didn't care about his physical appearance, as he was more worried about what he was going to eat, where he was going to sleep, and how he was going to survive.
Jose Was Nervous
As soon as Salva began cutting away his hair and beard, Jose began to express how nervous he was about the whole process. Even though he agreed to go through with the makeover, he was scared about how everything would turn out and was scared about the unknown.
Regardless of his concerns, he knew that this makeover would be life-changing and would maybe even help him get back on his two feet again. This would be a redefining moment for him, something not everyone is as lucky to get.
Changing The Shape And Texture Of His Beard
One of the first biggest changes made to Jose's appearance was the shape and texture of his beard. While on the streets, the hair on his face had become dry and brittle, making it look particularly unkempt.
However, the stylists applied a deep conditioning treatment to his beard, moisturizing it and helping to bring it back to life. Jose was only a matter of hours away from his makeover being fully complete. Something he couldn't wait to see.
The Shocking Difference
Even the stylist were amazed by how well Jose cleaned up. He looked completely reborn from the man that had walked into the salon earlier, leaving everybody in the salon speechless.
His unkempt beard and hair had been switched out with a clean, controlled, and suave new look. However, there was one final step in the process, Jose had to see what he looked like.
A New Door Was Opened
After living as a homeless man for 25 years, Jose suddenly had the realization that he could now have a new opportunity at life, something that might not have been possible without his makeover.
His new look gave him a deep satisfaction and he was determined to make the most of it. His new look gave him hope, something that he had lost many years ago. It was now up to him to make this new look work in his favor.
He Wasn't Recognized At His Favorite Spots
To show off his look to those that knew him, Jose went and bought a beer from a bar that he had been to numerous times. The waiter came out and gave him his beer and didn't say anything, as he had no idea who he was. It wasn't until Jose asked why he didn't recognize him that the waiter was stunned beyond belief.
He responded by saying "I do know you now!" Jose was no longer seen as the homeless man that he had once been labeled as, with most people having no idea who he was.
He's Getting Support From Everyone
While Jose was working at a restaurant assistant, parking cars in the parking lot, a local businessman was passing through. When he caught one look at Jose he couldn't believe it. He couldn't even explain how good Jose looked and was overwhelmed with emotion.
Being so happy for Jose and what the future holds for him, he walked up and gave him a massive hug to show his support. He also gave him a huge congratulations, something that truly meant a lot to Jose.
He's No Longer Homeless
Since his incredible transformation, Jose's life has turned around in more ways than one. He now looks better than most people, has a part-time job, and is receiving the financial aid necessary to greatly improve his quality of life. However, the greatest thing to happen to Jose is that he isn't homeless anymore.
He now has an apartment and his very own bed, something he lived without for 25 years. With his life in order more than ever, he is on the search for a full-time job to better his life even further.