On June 5, 2018 we made a difference that was special to us! We gave one of our displaced friends hope, we let him know he matters and that we truly care. Richard, also known as Wolf, lives at one of the homeless camps we serve and has been our friend for a while now. He was in a documentary titled Living in Tents, which we recommend everybody watch. (Visit that link for a preview and to see Wolf!) A nice guy with a big heart, Wolf always helps other homeless people when he can. He works at a local store and has been known to buy the camp residents food & hot meals, shirts and hygiene products, and he's a friend to many. Our supporters stepped up to give him this tent he's been wanting for a long time and he was thrilled! Thank you to all of our donors, supporters & followers who make moments like this happen!
We look forward to making differences for more individuals and filling this page more! If you'd like to be a Difference Maker, please contact us!
Making A Difference learned about a woman named Cassie during February 2017. She had lost her hearing and had been struggling for over a year because of it, unable to hold a job and living in a homeless camp. Her hearing loss was severe, she couldn't hear oncoming traffic, couldn't hear people talking to her and had problems communicating with others. Life was hard in the silence and she was isolated & alone. MAD Founder Tony Hilker heard about her and wanted to help but wasn't sure how.
He contacted Southwestern Hearing Centers and working with their Hearing Specialist Carol Eaton, these two teamed up together to make a difference in Cassie's life. They wanted to make sure she could have conversations again, talk to friends & family, work & engage with her co-workers and hear everyday sounds she no longer heard such as traffic or birds chirping. Cassie was given brand new hearing aids that enabled her to hear perfectly again, something she didn't think would ever happen again, and it brought her to tears.
We have to give many thanks to Southerwestern Hearing Centers & Hearing Specialist Carol Eaton for wanting to help Cassie and giving her the chance to live a normal life again. What a difference they made! Watch the video Southwestern Hearing Centers Helps Woman in Need Hear featured on Fox2Now's The Thread Stl with Virginia Kerr and Tim Ezell.
Helping homeless pet owners is one of the new ways MAD will be making a difference since ownership has changed, and Red & Roscoe came into our lives at the perfect time. Red is a 1 year old Pit Bull/Labrador Retriever mix, Roscoe is a 4 month old Shepherd mix and they belong to a Veteran who lives at a local homeless camp. We have a background in pet rescue and our Co-Director Michelle had helped the pets at the East St. Louis homeless camps when needed so when she found out there were 2 dogs at the camp in April 2019, she wanted to help them, especially after petting them & getting some lovings.
We love our Vets and appreciate all of their sacrifices so we made a post on Facebook asking for dog food & sponsorship for the two beautiful dogs to get neutered & vaccinated. We were thrilled when a wonderful young lady named Amanda Z. let us know she went online and bought them a large amount of dog treats, flea & tick collars, 3 bags of dog food, a huge bag of dental sticks, Nylabone chew toys & two Kong balls! We were touched by her generosity and exicted to get the donations! Once they were delivered, Michelle, along with MAD's other Co-Director, Jerry, took all of the dog supplies out to the homeless camp, where the dogs greeted them happily.
Jerry talked with the dogs' owner, Eddie, and found out a husband & wife team, who had originally given Red to Eddie, was sponsoring Red and helping with his care as they'd originally given the dog to Eddie. He's already neutered and the couple are taking care of his vaccinations and also keeping him on monthly flea, tick & heartworm preventative, which made us very happy. Red & Roscoe's angel, Amanda Z, surprised us by sponsoring Roscoe's neuter & vaccination so now these two dogs will not add any homeless puppies to the camps and will be protected from diseases! Their bellies are going to be full of food, they'll now have the joy of chasing a ball, there's tons of treats that will make them happy for a long time, they have bones to chew on, they have new collars and flea & tick collars so they won't be pestered by fleas & ticks! We ended up being $20 short for Roscoe's neuter and Four Hearts Foundation generously donated the remaining amount so he can be neutered! Big thanks to them! In July, Kristin P bought some gifts for Roscoe after his neuter, including Puppy Chow, Milk Bones biscuits & a tire chew toy! We love that you guys care for the homeless pets out there, too!
This page holds our favorite moments when differences were made for individuals.
Jerry came across a young man named Andrew in a local FB group who was looking for work so he could buy some food & necessities in April. Jerry contacted him, finding out he'd been homeless for 4 days. He'd recently worked for a company who wasn't wanting to pay him for the work he did for them and he was in a bad place. On Friday, Jerry & Michelle took him some sandwiches & snacks, water, basic necessities and a backpack. They were going to give him clothes too but he'd been in contact with Mom's on a Mission, an awesome local group of homeless advocate & our partners in helping the needy in the Metro East, and someone was already helping him with that, and another person was setting him up at a motel for a few days.
It doesn't take much for our lives to change and when times are hard and you live paycheck to paycheck, something like this can start someone on a downward spiral. His stemmed from a fight with his Mom, with whom he moved from Kansas to live in Illinois, she booted him out, and when he tried to return, she wouldn't let him in and he was suddenly on the streets. With a little help from people who care, he got food in his belly and a roof over his head! That's what making a difference is to us! Whether it's something little or big, it matters to that person, and that's what counts. The young man showed up that Sunday in Belleville where Michelle & Jerry were serving, ate some home-cooked food by Miss Amy, and accepted clothes & a hygiene kit because he has a job interview!! They gave him a ride back to the hotel and shared some resources for housing assistance. He contacted us recently for some food, and has found a place to live with a few other people! Thank you to everyone who donates to MAD! You make a difference to people like Andrew!
It was just 12° degrees on December 27, 2017 when Michelle Noyes was in the car with her husband in Troy, IL and saw what appeared to be a large bag of trash. Instead, she found a human being huddled up in a sleeping bag, US Marine Veteran William Bozman, who was homeless and stranded in Troy in the record-setting cold. He was in the process of hitchhiking from California to a friend's house in New York City. The last ride he had dropped him off about 20 miles away from Troy and he walked to the truck stop there, hoping to find a ride but couldn't. He ended up sleeping on the ground in freezing temperatures. Michelle had her husband run to Dunkin' Donuts and get this displaced Vet some hot chocolate then went home and logged on to Facebook to ask for help. Making A Difference and the Troy community responded immediately!
Residents stopped by within the next 8 hours to give him food, water, blankets & warm clothes and by the next day, William had a $225 bus ticket to New York and $320 for food & drinks along the way. As he & Tony, MAD' founder, parted ways and he promised to call when he arrived, William took off his old boots to put on another pair that someone had just donated that day to make sure it went to someone in need. This is one of our favorite moments at MAD and it shows how one person can make a difference, and how we can all make a difference together! William holds a special place in our hearts and always will. You can read more about William's story and watch a video at this link: Troy, Illinois residents help homeless veteran get to New York.
Jerry also found out that Eddie had served 15 years in the Army and has PTSD from the horrific job of bagging bodies in Kuwait. The Veteran's Administration is aware he's at the camp but it doesn't seem much is being done to help him. We'll do our best to keep him fed, clothed and not lacking basic essentials while he waits. If you know of any homeless Vets or a Vet in need, please send them to our Vets Matter, Too page for local resources. And, if you're a pet owner in need, you can find low cost spay & neuter programs, pet food pantries and more on our Making A Difference For Pets page.
Eddie became the lucky recipient of this shed at the beginning of May 2019! Thanks to the Future Farmers of America at Greenville High School in Missouri who built the shed, Chaplain Scott Pace & his ministry Sheds For The Homeless, and Greenville FFA advisor Chaplain Scott Payne, Eddie has a roof over his head! The location of the shed at the camp is being called Camp Storm, which we believe was due to Eddie serving during Operation Desert Storm. The man in the middle is Eddie, and he's incredibly appreciative that he has shelter! Learn more about this great group of teens, this amazing ministry & Eddie's shed at House of Hope then read more about all of the differences Chaplain Pace is making in Housing for Homeless.
The first big challenge for MAD's new owners came at the end of April. Lenny, a friend of our Assistant Director had fallen on hard times. A man in his late 40's who works hard, doesn't blow his money on drinking or drugs, is a Father & Grandpa and has a few health issues that doesn't make life easier, had been hit hard in the last few years with unexpected surprises that changed his life. He ended up homeless for a while due to having a slumlord, had to give up his beloved dog so he didn't have to live on the streets too, worked 2 jobs to get back on track, walking to work until he got a bicycle, then was hit hard again. He was now living in a motel with a microwave & tiny fridge, riding his bicycle to work, living off peanut butter & jelly and bologna sandwiches, and all of his pay went towards his monthly motel rent. He scrapped metal for a few extra bucks, couldn't get help with medical insurance because he 'makes too much money' nor could he get help from the State for that same reason. He fell between the cracks, as some of us do, and needed a little help.
This is exactly the kind of people we want to help so our Director Michelle gathered up food, clothes, toiletries & some necessities then started cooking. She & Jerry stopped by his motel room with those donations, some home-cooked food, an electric skillet so he can have real meals, and a hug. It may not seem like much to some people but we received a message from him that he actually felt happy, he slept well for the first time in a long time and didn't have to worry about what, or if, he was going to eat that week!
We still wanted to help Lenny, the man stuck in a motel, and so did a few of our followers so we put out a plea to help him get out of the motel and into a rental. We made a post looking for places for him near his work and he found a boarding house that was 3/4 of his rent, by the bus stop and a short ride on his bike to work, it was perfect! Lenny's work depends on the weather and he only worked 2 days that week due to rain so the money for rent & deposit at the new place had to go to the motel room, keeping him stuck in that vicious cycle. By the next morning, 12 of our amazing Fb followers came up with almost $300 which left him with a little extra leftover to buy some necessities! They didn't stop there, they also wanted to help him furnish his new place with household items. It ended up being furnished so he didn't need it but we were all struck by the sheer kindness & compassion from people.
We'd like to say he moved in immediately but the boarding house landlord wasn't in a hurry to process his app and Lenny ended up staying at the motel for another week, working off a few days by manning the front desk when the motel owners went out in the evening. They suddenly reneged on the deal of working for the rest of that week, it was still raining and there wouldn't be an income coming in so once Lenny was approved, he moved his stuff to friend's house & spent the night, stayed the next night at a relatives then finally moved into his new room in the boarding house the 2nd week of May!! He is happily starting a new chapter of his life thanks to everyone who made a difference by donating to his fund and making this possible, and to everyone who shared his post and cared! Lenny's living in downtown Belleville now, right by a bus stop so he can take the bus when needed and not have to ride his bike everywhere, and most importantly, the vicious cycle he was stuck in is gone - he will have money to buy food, clothes, medications & necessities instead of his whole paycheck going toward his motel room! Lenny's mood has improved greatly, he's no longer depressed, he's feeling happy & content - something he hasn't felt in a long time - and he's looking forward to what his future brings. And, so are we!
On May 13th, we were contacted by an employee of a local retirement center in Caseyville. An elderly, homeless gentleman named William showed up there, wanting to become a resident. They fed him & let him hang out there that day but he couldn't stay overnight due to state auditors coming in, and it would take a few days to finish his paperwork to admit him. The retirement center spent the afternoon calling local shelters but hadn't had any luck finding him a roof over his head temporarily so they contacted us. We put out a plea on Facebook and thanks to 3 wonderful ladies, William was set up a motel for the next two nights!
Jerry picked up our new friend William that night and took him to a local motel. He now had a room where he could take a nice, long shower and sleep safely in a comfortable bed. We left him with food & snacks, chili, cereal & milk, shirts & jeans, socks & shoes, a hygiene kit, razor deodorant and toothbrush & toothpaste. William was going to be looking good and feeling even better! A 70 year old frail and very kind gentleman, William originated from Alton but was staying in a homeless community in St. Louis that wasn't very safe for him. It was full of bugs and there were too many people doing drugs around him so he left. For the last few weeks he's been sleeping up against buildings to keep out of the rain. He went to the retirement center to see if he could live there but it wasn't a fast process.
William seemed to have touched quite a few people, including us, and people were wanting to donate to give him more nights at the motel, clothes & any necessities he needed. He had his first assessment at the retirement home and was waiting for his second and we believed he'd be admitted by the time his two day stay was up. Sadly, he wasn't as the paperwork still wasn't finished. So, after talking to our Fb followers, who generously donated 2 more nights, Jerry went up to the motel to pay the extension and brought William some McDonald's. He was wearing some of the clothes Jerry had brought him and it hit Jerry hard. It's so easy to care about people like William, he's a good soul who hit rough times and just needed a little help. We really wish people didn't have to go through struggles at any age, but especially his age. It just drove home the reason we do this. We really DO want to make a difference! And, we have, with help from our awesome team!
We'd hoped 4 nights in a motel would be it but at the last minute we hit a glitch and were told William's approval had to be mailed from Springfield, and couldn't be called in or faxed and the earlier they could get him in would be Tuesday, another 4 more days! Frustration at the process was setting in. It went from a few days to a week - we could've rented a room for a week and had extra money for him instead of renting a room a few days at a time. Six very special women stepped up and donated, it didn't take long at all, and we were so grateful! So, he was covered for more 4 days and we praying hard they'd admit him by the time his motel stay is up. William was in good spirits, smiling and the wait wasn't bothering him at all. We're just glad he's safe and has a roof over his head. Thankfully, on May 21st, William was admitted and how his very own apartment at the retirement center!
Big thanks to everyone who made this possible whether it was financial or you donated food, clothes or basic necessities that William is now using. We couldn't do this without them! This is what making a difference is all about! One of our mottos is team work makes the dream work and we were shown how much that was true by how so many people came together to help one man.
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June 6, 2018 was a sweet blessing. One of our friends needed help and God sent us the means to help her. Momma Dee lives at one of the homeless camps and has been trying hard to get back on her feet. A very sweet lady and the mother of the camp, everyone who met her liked her immediately. She was eligible to get an apartment, she just needed money for the deposit. So, with the help of Jim & Cathy Haeffner and everyone at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP, Momma Dee will be moving out of the camp and into her very own apartment! This is what making a difference is all about and this is why we love what we do!
After 10 long months waiting to be approved for her apartment, Momma Dee has finally moved out of the back homeless camp in East St. Louis and into her very own apartment on October 1, 2018! (See our June 6th memory for how it started) Big thanks to Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP and their staff for holding a donation drive that provided her with a security deposit and to Jim & Cathy Haeffner for such a generous gift! We also thank God for giving Momma Dee the determination and strength to patiently wait for such a huge blessing! Homelessness may be an issue but we can try to solve it, one friend at a time! Update: Momma Dee loves her new home & is doing great! We're so happy for her!
Wolf update! The homeless camp Wolf was at closed and he had to find another place to stay in March 2019. A company called ReNew StLouis, Inc that provides opportunities for Vets, the homeless and in-need, and partners up with local non-profits to make changes in the community, contacted MAD in May to work together. MAD's new owner, Jerry Price was able to hire homeless people to clean out the houses their local agent rehabs, and he also picked them up & dropped them off at work and drove back over to pick them up when their shift was over. It's the agent's first rehab in St. Louis and we were thrilled to find out Wolf will be able to buy it! So, not only our friend will have a roof over his head soon, a handful of homeless people have jobs rehabbing his house! That's making a difference!