It was snowing pretty bad when I met Bill in Syracuse. I must have had some snow on my face because when I walked up to say hello, Bill took out some Kleenex and started […]


It was snowing pretty bad when I met Bill in Syracuse. I must have had some snow on my face because when I walked up to say hello, Bill took out some Kleenex and started to wipe my face dry. I stood there in the cold overwhelmed by this kind gesture from a gentle homeless man. Bill only knew me for a moment, yet he was concerned enough about a complete stranger to clean off my face.

Bill has been on the streets for some time. He suffers from PTSD because of a violent attack many years ago.

He sleeps in an abandoned loft he claims was one used by an artist. The last time Bill stayed in a homeless shelter someone stole his dentures while he was sleeping.

The Housing First model may be a fit for someone like Bill. He’s never going to go back to gainful employment and no one should stay in the shelter system without a direct pass to housing. Bill broke my heart. I tried to talk him into walking to a shelter with me, but he said he knows how to wrap up at night.  Someday soon I hope we’ll have a system where an outreach worker can walk up to a person like Bill and give him a key to an apartment. Until then, all I can do is open my wallet to help make Bill’s night a little easier.

Bill has been on the streets for some time. He suffers from PTSD. Click To Tweet

Special thanks to Syracuse Rescue Mission

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  1. February 21, 2014 at 12:34 pm, DrMMcLaughlin said:

    I’ve spoken with Bill several times this week by phone and expect to connect with him in person next week in Syracuse. He was brought to my attention by an attorney who has an office in the downtown Syracuse area and who often chats with Bill on the street. He asked me if I could help him. I plan to do all that I can to assist him.

    Bill came across to me as very intelligent and very polite. I’ll show him this video as I don’t think he’s seen it yet although he remembers the interview.

  2. March 13, 2014 at 2:27 pm, Donella said:

    Bill appears to be an amazing person. He seems very intelligent and well spoken. I am glad that Dr. McLaughlin is going to try and help Bill. I also hope that Bill’s future is better than the present.

  3. March 17, 2014 at 10:45 am, AGonzalez said:

    Bill, seems that you have been though so much in your life and seems to me that you’re still hanging in there. But it looks like you are not giving up on yourself and keep trying to survive! Good Luck and God Bless!

  4. March 17, 2014 at 10:49 am, Lisa Nieves said:

    Bill just imagining what you are going through is hard. Life is not easy for anyone, and is even harder for the homeless people. I wish there was a way to help people like you. Those three wishes you made i really hope they come true and you can smile again.

  5. March 18, 2014 at 6:36 am, HBDS said:

    Bill, your story really touched our hearts. we’re glad you are better off than some homeless people and we are so happy that you keep warm and have a place to stay. We hope all goes well with you and your kids relationships. We will keep you in our prayers and pray for you to overcome your situation. God bless.

  6. March 18, 2014 at 8:44 am, JR AW said:

    Not only did Bill share his homeless story, he told us about his illness. Even though his homeless he wont be confined to a shelter. His honesty and pride is what further drives us to help those less fortunate. For this we thank you for spreading the word.

  7. March 18, 2014 at 10:46 am, K.H. R.L. said:

    I’m glad you take you priorities seriously. Your story really made me realize how grateful I should be for everything. May God bless you. Stay safe! I really hope the best for you.

  8. March 30, 2014 at 8:44 am, Bud Unger said:

    I really hope that Bill’s family sees this and knows that their father is out in sub degree weather trying to survive. People make decisions that they may regret. We as family and friends should stick by and offer a hand up, because we can be in the same place they are with as little as a bad choice.

  9. May 14, 2014 at 6:02 pm, DrMMcLaughlin said:

    Bill is off the street,. He’s received outstanding medical care and other professional services ever since I first met him three months ago (see my earlier post here). I showed him this video. He remembers the interview fondly.
    He’s doing great!

  10. May 15, 2014 at 5:32 am, DrMMcLaughlin said:

    PS He has also reunited with his daughter and her children. He is very happy, Interestingly, I wanted to get him into a top treatment facility but they declined to take him until I sent the medical director a link to this video. They were able to see what a nice man he is and reversed their decision.

  11. May 16, 2014 at 11:11 am, DrMMcLaughlin said:

    I think it is really important that viewers of Bill’s video know that IMO Bill had not been served very effectively by area services providers. Like most of the people I work with, he had basically recycled out of facilities for one reason or another that IMO could/ should have helped him more than they did.

    Also, on the very day that I first met Bill in person, a homeless woman (reported in the newspaper to have been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia) was found frozen to death in Syracuse. She was 42.

    I am so glad that I was able to get Bill the medical attention and other services that he needed. Much like the woman who was found dead, Bill was at extremely high risk of death while living like he did. It was for that reason that I was able to get him such outstanding and intensive medical attention.

    Chronic homelessness has been called the most lethal health related condition in America.

  12. June 11, 2014 at 2:04 pm, DrMMcLaughlin said:

    Bill is doing great! You can listen to a few minutes of what has been happening with him here:

  13. June 11, 2014 at 2:13 pm, DrMMcLaughlin said:

    PS Bill already has new eyeglasses and is awaiting an appointment for new dentures.

  14. July 30, 2014 at 5:32 pm, KiKi said:

    It’s nice to read the discussion board regarding the positive outcome that came Bill’s way! Of the stories I’ve read thus far, I believe Bill is the 1st. Individual to speak of wanting employment when asked of his 3 wishes. This interviewer touched my heart when he went out of his way to help Bill receive the medical attention he so badly needed. God Bless you Bill & this organization !

  15. September 11, 2014 at 7:09 pm, DrMMcLaughlin said:

    More Bill updates here

  16. March 16, 2015 at 7:54 am, Ted Bauer said:

    have to keep discussion going!

  17. October 11, 2016 at 10:39 am, DrMMcLaughlin said:

    Bill died on October 9, 2016. I met him in early 2014, shortly after this video interview was conducted. I was able to help him to get off the streets, into medical care and into housing until his death in a nursing home from liver cancer. Our hearts are broken. May he rest in final and eternal peace among the angels in paradise.

  18. March 07, 2017 at 7:59 pm, Karen said:

    This is the 1st time I saw this. Someone commented that he hoped this man’s family would see that he was on the streets. You cannot force someone to listen or to do what you think is best. People make their own way in life regardless of the help offered, out of pride, out of embarrassment, out of past discretion, out of many reasons that no one else can judge without knowing the whole situation. This man was my Uncle Billy who was only 9 years older than I. Although I Ioved him until the day he died, we grew very far apart, as many families sadly do. Thank you for opening your heart to him as you did. I was planning to visit him on a Tuesday and he died the weekend before, I never got to say goodbye to him after not having spoken for years. I got my closure with our distance through the years by holding a Life Remembrance Gathering in November for his “back home” family and his former classmates and friends. Thank you again

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