Acts of Kindness
Lonely homeless man posts ad looking for a family to spend day with & gets more than he bargained for
Fearing being alone for the holidays, the worst time to be alone, Neal Shytles posted an ad online in search of a family to take him in.
Sasha Alonzo
10.12.21

Unfortunately, some people are dealt with a tough hand that leads them down the path to homelessness. While some homeless people still have family there are many that have no family at all.

Neal Shytles is a man down on his luck. He doesn’t have a real home. His “home” is bunk number 13 at the Union Mission Ministries men’s shelter in Norfolk, Va.

flightlog via flickr
Source:
flightlog via flickr

As Fox43 reports,

“This is where I lived for a year.”

He didn’t choose to end up this way. He’d been a hard-working taxi driver until he lost his job. With no one to turn to, he found himself a position most of us never dream of ending up in. He had no family left to turn to and had used up his savings.

Redmond via flickr
Source:
Redmond via flickr

And he is grateful he has a bed to sleep in. But there are many things he wishes for. Because despite living in close confines with hundreds of people, he is lonely.

In an interview with WTKR’s NewsChannel 3, he shared,

“I am lonely like 365 days a year, but Christmas and Thanksgiving are two of the worst days, and I really miss having some kind of family atmosphere around me.”

Doing something about the loneliness

Facebook
Source:
Facebook

With Thanksgiving approaching, Shytles decided to do something about it. He contacted NewsChannel 3. He drew up a wanted and ad and had it posted to their Facebook page.

He told them,

“It would mean the world to me if somebody took me in. Just for that one day, for a couple hours.”

Not surprisingly, this touched the hearts of many, and his plea for a meal with a family went viral.

WomansDay
Source:
WomansDay

Local NewsChannel 3 viewers and those who read the plea on social media took action.

AOL reports,

“It was like bam, bam, bam, one good thing after the other, and I was just so happy, you know.”

Shytles received emails and calls from all over the country. And the world. He received gifts from as far away as Germany and Britain.

More importantly, he got what he wished for. A family to share the holiday with.

A Wish Granted

WashingtonPost
Source:
WashingtonPost

Of the many calls it was Cory and Ashley McLemore, a military couple who lived in Newport News that was the first to connect with Shytles.

A flood of tears

It was Ashley who spoke with him.

“He started crying and then I started crying and we were both crying,” she said. “Because we’ve been military, and I identify with having to be away from your family and not having family around for the holidays so it kind of struck a chord with me.”

And Shytles recalls,

“I was crying when she called me, and I had to excuse myself because I was emotional.”

WomansDay
Source:
WomansDay

On Thanksgiving Day, the McLemores made the drive to pick him up and take him back home for the family meal he’d been missing. The family he had been missing.

When later interviewed by the Washington Examiner, Ashley McLemore and Shytles expressed how they felt about the occasion.

“You don’t know how much I love these people,” Shytles said. “They’re instant family, and I love them so much.”

“There are good and bad people from all walks of life,” McLemore reflected. “And if we don’t take those chances to meet new people, then we’re really crippling ourselves.”

WomansDay
Source:
WomansDay

And others were moved to do something for him in person as well. A local family also showed up at the shelter with their three boys and wanted to meet him. He now heads to their place on Sundays after church to watch football with them, and they have asked him to spend Christmas Day with them.

Shytles hopes this continues. That people still reach out and share their families with him. And maybe it will. He also received an invite to the following Easter.

Widdle via Flickr
Source:
Widdle via Flickr

Humans are social beings and as such, we need others to make us feel whole. At the end of the day, everyone wants to be loved and to receive love. We are so happy that Neal was able to get that.

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By Sasha Alonzo
hi@sbly.com
Sasha Alonzo is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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