Our ongoing series, A More Perfect Union, aims to show that what unites us as Americans is far greater than what divides us. In this installment, an unlikely path toward finding family. A homeless man panhandling at a transit station in the Bay Area discovered a new life thanks to the kindness of some people who gave him a chance.
A loner. That's how Mick Myers describes himself. No kids. Never married. The only love he knew was his adoptive mother, reports Elizabeth Cook of CBS News affiliate KPIX.
"I've been living a life as alone as a person can possibly be," Mick said.
Homeless for 30 years, Mick gets by playing for tips at a BART station in the Bay Area and panhandling along the highway. That's where sheriff's deputy Jacob Swalwell caught up with him last year. He warned Mick several times to stop. The next step was to issue a citation, but instead he asked him a question.
"I asked him what's it going to take to get you off the street because at that point I realized me writing him a citation, it's not going to help him at all," Swalwell said. "When I got closer, I realized he was a senior citizen."
"He said, well you're 67, how come you're not on social security and I says well I can't get it because I can't even get an ID. You know, I got nobody to help me….And he says, well, you've got somebody to help you now," Mick recalled.
Even with Swalwell's resources at the Alameda County Sheriff's Department, it took three separate trips to the DMV for Mick to get an identification card.
"It's made me realize we need to utilize more resources that are available to us to help others and if we can do that, we're doing the right thing as law enforcement officers," Swalwell said.
His persistence paid off. Mick is now on Medicaid and has applied for social security benefits.
"It makes me feel good that there's actually people in the world who acknowledge me because very few people have before," Mick said.
But Mick's fresh start was just beginning. Private investigator Mark Askins volunteers for Miracle Messages, a nonprofit devoted to reconnecting the homeless with their loved ones. When he learned of Mick's story, he wanted to help out.
Using the little information provided, Askins was able to find Mick's birth mother Polly living roughly 250 miles away in Eureka, California.
"She was just so anxious to see him and to talk to him and to, you know, a true mother's love. It was just beautiful," Askins said.
Polly didn't have an easy life either. After leaving her husband, she was a teenage mom struggling to support three kids. Mick was sick and needed surgery so when he was 2 years old, Polly gave him up for adoption to her mother's friend who could afford to get him the help he needed.
"I feel a sadness that he's had to go through this, to feel so alone. But at the same time, I'm proud of him because no matter what happened, like me, he's a survivor," Polly said.
Deputy Swalwell and Mark Askins arranged for Mick to fly to meet the mother who gave him up 65 years ago and the family he had never known. Polly's home is now full of family ready to embrace Mick.
"He didn't just get a mom. He got a whole family and they all descended him at one time," she said. "To have you back puts a piece of my heart back and it means the world to me….You're a part of my life now and I hope that you always will want to be."
For Mick, the future may be uncertain but the past is finally resolved.
"After a lifetime of waiting what I thought never would happen – happened," Mick said. "A 67-year-old man meets his 85-year-old mother. Who'd of thought that something like this could happen to anybody, let alone me."
Polly has invited Mick to come live with her and her husband in Eureka, but he's hesitant to move away from the area where he's spent his whole life. For now, he's working on getting a car and promises to go back and visit as often as possible.