At the end of the day, Bryce was just “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
On Thursday morning, the homeless man from Nebraska who has been living on the street with his girlfriend Melissa for some time finally decided to take Manteca Police Community Resource Officer Mike Kelly up on his offer for help.
And he’s now on his way back to be reunited with his family in Nebraska.
According to Bryce – who asked that his last name not be used in the story about his struggles and his shot at redemption – it was the weather of the past week that was the final straw in finally surrendering to his demons and taking the help that was offered to him.
Within just a few hours, Kelly managed to contact his family in Nebraska to inform them that he wanted to come home, and served as a mediator as Bryce’s mother placed conditions on his return – that he must enter a drug treatment program and he must attend church on Sunday.
By the time he woke up on Thursday morning in the field behind Wal-Mart where he had been living as part of a homeless encampment, the tent that protected Bryce and Melissa from the elements had been destroyed by the wind, and the heavy rains brought water right up to what had served as their front door.
Tired, sick and drenched, he said that he had been thinking about trying to figure out a way to get out of his current predicament, but had no idea how he would go about doing so.
And then Kelly arrived.
“We woke up this morning and his car was parked outside,” Bryce said from the lobby of the Manteca Police Department where he was waiting for his ride to the San Francisco Airport to arrive. “I figured that I just had to go and talk to him and see exactly what it was that he could do.
“In a million years I didn’t think that this would be happening the way that it has.”
While Kelly was able to play the mediator and help reestablish contact, it was the Manteca Islamic Center that purchased the tickets for both Bryce and Melissa to return to his family. Imam Mohammad El Farra, a local dentist and a founding member of the Manteca Interfaith Community Appeal, has long worked to serve the disadvantaged and less fortunate in the community – raising money to help outfit homeless Manteca Unified students with much-needed clothing.
Stepping up to the plate in this manner, according to Kelly, made all the difference in the world.
“To be able to do these things we need a community that is willing to step up and participate, and that’s exactly what the Islamic Center did today,” he said. “That idea of people in the community working together to help people is the only way that this thing actually works.”
Bryce said that he was shocked when he realized that the police officer that has been responding to him was actually there to help – initially wary of Kelly and his intentions, but warming up to him over the numerous times that they’ve interacted. Building that relationship with him, he said, proved to be all the difference in being able to ask for help when he had reached his bottom.
“Normally when you see a police officer, when you’re in our position, means that you’re going to jail or you’re getting kicked out and you have to pack everything up and find a new place,” he said. “I knew that this was something that I wanted, but I didn’t know how to go about doing it.
“He helped with that, because I don’t think I would have been able to do this on my own.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.