Pedro always had the hope of finding his family but never found any help. John and Randi came to his rescue.
Most of us see or have interactions with the homeless or needy on our way to work. While we are able to help some of them, there are many who spend their entire life on the streets, not knowing if they will be able to feed themselves the next day. But things were meant to be a little different for Pedro Reid, a homeless man searching for his family.
Randi Emmans-Bailyn was walking her dog when she saw a man talking and mumbling to himself outside her Los Angeles apartment. "What I was listening to was breaking my heart. He was saying things like 'Everyone just stares at me. I'm an educated man, but all they see is a person who doesn't have a home and doesn't have anyone to call,'" the 33-year-old told The Washington Post.
The homeless man who introduced himself as Franklin said, "Why do people just stand and look at me or laugh at me? I'm an extremely educated man. Say hello to me. Do not ignore me and give me these looks." His words broke Randi's heart so much that she called up her boyfriend, John Suazo, and asked him to help her out since John was the one who had started Project Backpack, a charity which has been helping the homeless in LA since 2014. That one call changed Pedro's life.
Pedro said that he was shocked when the couple spoke to him since no one had ever done that in a long time. 34-year-old John, who is an actor said, "He was so impressive. The whole conversation really touched us." Pedro revealed to the couple that he left home and moved to L.A. in 1999 from Charleston, S.C., to live with an aunt. After a year he found himself addicted to drugs and alcohol, he became homeless. He wandered on the streets of L.A struggling to find a home for himself.
At 54, he was hopeless but "the thought of reuniting with my family was always on my mind," he said. Randi and John made him so comfortable that he revealed everything about him to the couple. "John and Randi saw me as more than what everyone else saw me as — just a homeless person living on the streets. They believed in me, despite the situation they found me in," he said.
The caring couple provided him with one of the backpacks they offer homeless people, food, water, a blanket, and other essentials but she wanted to do more. Randi chose Facebook to ask the public for donations to help Pedro spend a few nights in a hotel, a proper bath and hot meals. She penned, "I asked him what he needed most. He said he was just SO tired from never really sleeping because he's nervous to have his only belongings taken from him while he sleeps."
During their heartfelt conversation with Pedro, the couple found out that he hadn't met his family for 20 years. Without wasting a minute, they made it their mission to get him back to his family, reported The Mirror. Pedro gave the couple a few names along with his grandma's address even though he was not sure if she was still alive. Talking to Washington Post, John said, "Randi and I started plugging away on the Internet, and we were able to find his grandmother’s name associated with the address. We called wrong numbers until, finally, we got someone who was his uncle’s ex-wife."
Their hard work showed result, and they found his uncle, who flew to L.A to meet his nephew after 20 years. Randi, too, explained the couple's relentless work to find Pedro's family on Instagram and said, "He is so smart and kind and all he wanted was to be reunited with his family. John and I searched the internet and John was able to find a phone number for a family member."
She continued, "He and his family hadn't spoken in over 20 years. As soon as we told them we had found him, they said they would get on a plane because they too had been searching for him for the last 20 years. We raised money and got him into a hotel, got him fresh clothes and shoes, food and other essentials."
Pedro finally found his family because two strangers had the heart to listen to him and help him. Talking about how the homeless feel invisible in this big world and require help, she said, "Please when you see someone on the street, don't look away if they say hello. It's what he said made the difference to him every day."
"The people that acknowledged him kept him going and made him feel like someday he wouldn't be so lonely. He touched our hearts forever and we're going to miss him. We cannot wait to see what this chapter holds for him," she concluded.