One year ago, Mike Marshall lived in his car, a cold, lonely and cramped existence that destroyed him mentally and physically.
It was an incredibly cruel end to an already isolated pandemic year for the 74-year-old retired widower and nurse.
But as a tired world shuts the door on a second year of the pandemic, Marshall opens the door to a new home, one that has no steering wheel and four tires.
Marshall reflected on 2021 as he now sits in his warm two-bedroom apartment in Pontiac with a full kitchen, bathroom, and furnished with a bed and other comfy home amenities, including two parakeets. of company.
“I love this place,” Marshall said over the phone. “I’m doing pretty well… At this time last year, I was just at Dodge 10 Park (in Highland Township). I’ve been here since May and don’t miss living in the car.
He laughs when he sees a social worker asking him if he ever thought about moving back to the car. He responded by asking him if he looked really stupid.
Marshall only looks happy and at ease in recent photos as he celebrated Thanksgiving at Bambi Chick’s, one of his benefactors in the Milford area. He has a lot to be thankful for since Chick helped start a gofundme in Marshall’s name which raised over $ 10,000.
“Everyone in the community rushed over and started doing stuff and bringing him stuff,” said Chick, who helped Marshall get into a motel room in late January. “Everyone read the article and it went viral. It just means that there is humanity out there and people really want to help, it’s just a matter of who to trust? I would do it again for him, he’s such a good person.
After more than two months in the homeless shelter, a difficult time for Marshall but needed to get help, he was moved to his subsidized apartment.
Besides the furnishings, the goodwill of the community enabled Marshall to obtain dentures, fix his car so he could use it as it was meant to be, and pay the medical bills.
He also shared funds with a friend in need, rewarding his kindness to a man with no income who lived in the shelter and now lives half a mile from Marshall.
“They (the social workers) got him a place, and he has Bridge cards but no way to get to the grocery store and had no furniture,” Marshall said. “He was sleeping on the floor and had a pot. Me and gofundme helped. I had a single bed and gave him my cot and went to the thrift store and bought him more pots and pans and a bike so he could get around. I’m so glad I found the thrift store.
The gofundme’s money is now gone, but Marshall, who has earned Social Security income from his many years of working, said he had everything he needed, including the internet and an office so he could start working. write a book ; a good physiotherapist who helps with the damaged feet he suffered while living in his car for five months; and a genealogist who helps Marshall, adopted as a baby, find his birth family.
He hopes it is a family that will welcome him in a brighter chapter of his life. In the meantime, he thanks everyone who helped him through the dark days and allowed him to help others.
“That’s why we were alive and here on the planet,” Marshall said. “To help each other. “