Finding ways to ensure that veterans are supported once they’ve returned is an issue that concerns all of us. The story of Steve is a touching reminder about how a community can come together to give someone a helping hand when they need it most.
Late Fall In Blue Springs
It was late fall in Blue Springs, Missouri. The leaves turned orange and the grasslands eagerly awaited the rain. The sound of birds filled the air, but all was not right, there was something in the woods…
A Man In The Woods
Our story starts with a humble opening. The is a man who has called these woods his home for the past few years. He feels at peace amongst the wilderness and has found a way with the land. His name is Steve. However, Steve is no hunter. He is not a game ranger either. In fact, Steve is a veteran who has called the woods his home for the past few years, not out choice, but because of his unfortunate circumstances.
Steve had moved to Blue Springs Missouri, a small high-way town just off Interstate 70, a while ago and became known to the locals as a quiet and peaceful drifter type. At first, no one really took much notice of him and he went about his life largely unnoticed by the world around him. However, the quiet town of Blue Springs was a small place and after a while of drifting around, people started noticing the mysterious regular on their streets.
A Quiet Man
The folks of Blue Springs hadn’t ever paid much attention to Steve largely because he was such a quiet person. Always calm and never one for begging, he could be seen hanging out around the local Little General Store store most days. No one really felt like he was either a threat or a nuisance to them and so they never paid much attention to his daily business. Most days he would sit perched on the windowsill and pull on cigarettes meditatively.
A Helpful Stranger
While many of us are quick to agree that homeless people can be a nuisance most of the time, the truth is that Steve was a very different type of drifter. Understanding that he didn’t want to be a burden on anybody, he would often lend his hand helping out wherever he could – even if it was only to do something small. In most cases, this would involve Steve picking up trash outside the local Little General Store in Blue Springs.
Meet The Manager
Anyone who has ever lived in a small town will know how life can be in a place like that. Everyone kinda knows everyone and regulars become regulars quickly. However, this also means that things that are out of the ordinary stand out a lot quicker. So at first, Sella Minker was quite alarmed by Steve hanging out around her store but over time, his calm nature and helpful attitude became a standard fixture of life at the small shop.
After noticing Steve hang around her store for a while, Sella decided to approach the man. At first, she was worried that his hanging around the store might frighten customers away, but no one seemed to be bothered by Steve. When she first approached him, she told him that he didn’t need to clean up around the store – assuming that he was just looking for a job. He told her that he enjoyed cleaning up and that he was essentially homeless and needed something to do all day.
The Community Answers
As we said, living in a small town means that news tends to travel quite quickly. As people who were regulars at the store came to see Steve more and more regularly, they became accustomed to him. After that, it was only a short while before they started wondering about who he was and what his story was. Using the town’s Facebook page, people started reaching out to the community to ask for help regarding Steve. The first to reach out was Lisa Mills.
After garnering a lot of attention about the mysterious drifter, people started taking note of Steve. As they started to inquire more about him, they started wondering about his story and how he wound up where he was. When asked, the quiet man usually kept his story to himself. However, after a while, he started to share more about his life and who he was. The story of Steve is a very touching one indeed and will definitely move you.
As it turns out, Steve was a veteran from the Vietnam war. After the war, he started suffering from symptoms of schizophrenia and general depression. Having received a military grant and social welfare, he took care of his family – which consisted of his wife and four children. After his wife Anita died from cancer at age 48, Steve moved to a small motel off Interstate 70 with his daughter until she decided to leave claiming that it was too much living in such a small space with him.
Shortly after Steve’s daughter moved out, his social welfare ran out as well. He could no longer afford to stay in the small motel room and was forced to move into the woods. Alone, cold and hungry, Steve went on with his life in the quietest way he could. He simply existed out in the wilderness, roaming the streets, looking for something to do. He would often hang out in The Firehouse Bar and select music on the jukebox while keeping away from the cold.
Help From The Community
Because Steve was such a calm and quiet person, and had no history with substance abuse or run-ins with the law, the residents of Blue Springs took a liking to him. Steve never asked for anything and never begged. He always seemed to just make his way through life humbly and still tried to help wherever he could. Sella, the Manager of the Little General Store even let him use their phone regularly, in order for him to stay in touch with his daughter.
After the posts on the Facebook group, Steve had become quite popular in the town. He had started to open up to the locals a little more and they were moved by his story. After realizing that he needed help (but wasn’t the type to ask for it), they decided to take matters into their own hand. At first, they started off simply by giving him a few essentials, like a little cash for food and warm gloves for the cold.
Those Boots Were Made For Walking
After receiving his first gift from a stranger in the community, of which Steve was deeply grateful, he was gifted a second time. Before, he had been seen wearing an old and worn pair of sneakers. Knowing that he spent most of his time outdoors, a kindly member of the community decided to gift him with a sturdy pair of outdoor boots so that he could stay warm during the cold months and keep his feet dry too.
A Carhartt Jacket For The Cold
Steve didn’t have much in terms of shelter. He had even less warm clothes to keep the cold out. So when the weather took a turn for the worst, if he didn’t find a warm place to sleep or eventually had to move out into the woods, he was left without much to keep him from the cold. Noting how cold it can get in Kansas, a kindly member of the community gifted Steve with a practical Carhartt jacket to keep him warm.
Home, For Now
After a while, Steve had managed to save up and buy himself a small red tent for shelter. In the past, he had just been sleeping out in the woods in a sleeping bag. After explaining this to one of the regulars at the Little General Store, he was surprised when they returned with a large tent for him as a gift! While it might not be as good as a solid home, it was a major upgrade from what he had been staying in before.
A Cosier Nest
While Steve had managed to survive a number of years in the wild without so much as a sleeping bag, the help that started pouring in from the community really gave him hope. He always believed that God would look after him and after having had a very hard life, it looked like his silent prayers were slowly being answered. The tent enabled him to store more goods and belongings and kept him warm during the cold winter nights. Steve was so grateful for the help!
A Warm Shower
Steve was incredibly grateful for the help he was receiving from the townsfolk. He had never asked for their help and never expected it either. He didn’t really know what to say other than thank you and god bless. News about Steve, the homeless veteran started to spread around the town and pretty soon everyone who saw him would gift him either food, fresh water or a little cash to help him along. Some even offered their showers for a weekly cleaning.
Someone Who Understands
By now, most people in the town had found out about Steve and knew who he was. He continued with his daily routine of helping out where he could and meditating. One day, a lady named Chloe Radford stopped by the Little General Store and noticed Steve standing by the door. She asked him whether he was homeless or not and said yes. She quickly got some change out of her car to help him and also explain her own story to him…
It turns that the Chloe was also homeless. As a single mother, she lost her home after having to flee with her daughter and since then has been living in the homes of friends. When she heard about Steve’s story, she felt compelled to reach out to him and lend a helping hand. Despite not having much money of her own, she decided to gift Steve with some cash on a regular basis to make sure he always had enough to eat and keep warm.
A Religious Man
Despite facing such hard luck over the course of his life, Steve has relied on his faith in God to get him through the toughest of times. While he does not read the Bible regularly, he claims that God does speak to him. He is also incredibly grateful for the help he has received from his fellow townspeople and has said that he sees the love of Christ in every one of them. Prayer and meditation have kept him headstrong and hopeful over the years.
A Higher Calling
Steve has remained devoutly religious over his decade of homelessness and claims that his trials were a test from God himself. When asked about his religious views, other than being a strong Christian, Steve has admitted that he believes he is on a mission from God and trusts that there is a plan laid out for him. He believes that God has plans to look after, but wants to invert his soul so that he understands the good and bad in the hearts of men.
Making The News
As word of Steve spread more and more, local and national news agencies became interested in Steve’s story. After the posts on Facebook created initial awareness about Steve and his situation, news broadcasters like Fox and The Kansas City Star started running mini-documentaries and articles on Steve to help raise awareness. Since then, Steve has acquired a lot of support, and his story stands as a sobering reminder of how challenging life can be for veterans after the army. It’s an issue that affects all of us.