Woman Starts GoFundMe to Help Homeless Family Found Begging on Side of Road
When Shannon Lyons met a homeless family on the side of the road in Seattle begging for cash in the pouring rain, she was distraught.
Lyons’ neighbor, Ida, had spotted the two parents and their 11 and 3-year-old daughters last Monday while she was driving at night. She then went to Lyons' house to ask her if she could help.
“I told my 16-year-old daughter to get old clothing that she has. I got canned food from my house. Ida got food from her house as well,” Lyons told InsideEdition.com.
But, Lyons said she wasn’t prepared for what she saw when she met them.
“Their 3-year-old daughter had no shoes on her feet. She was playing on the side of the busy street. The father was in a wheelchair and they were begging for a hotel room for the night,” Lyon said. “Respectfully I couldn’t throw a can of food at them and say, 'have a good night.'"
Everything the family owned was in the shopping cart next to them.
Lyons took action and got the family into a motel across the street. The motel only had double occupancy rooms so she bought two rooms for three nights at $450 – a short term solution.
Three-year-old Betty immediately said she was “cold and hungry” when Lyons and her neighbor got them settled into the room.
“It was so heartbreaking. I was crying,” said Lyons. “Everyone was crying.”
Lyons couldn’t stop thinking about the family, so she started a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $2,500 to help the family get into an apartment.
The father, Dave Falk, said he gets $1,050 in disability each month and so Lyons wanted to raise enough money for the family to be able to move in somewhere.
They’d been staying at shelters since they moved up from Michigan so Dave could possibly get better care for his Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, but things hadn’t panned out how they thought, according to Lyons.
Dave said that his family lost the $2,000 they had saved on the train ride up to Seattle and things had gone downhill since.
The family couldn’t find a shelter that would take Dave, as well as the mom, Tanya, and the children.
Their 11-year-old, Johanna, has been attending school, having to walk with her mother 45 minutes every day to get there, but she still manages to achieve good grades, Lyons said.
Understandably, the family wanted to stay together.
Dave said they had been using his disability check to stay at a hotel, but the money ran out and that's how they ended up on the side of the road.
“We were screwed. We had been out at that place from 11 a.m. that morning and we’d only collected $40. We were calling places and they couldn’t find anywhere for us to go," Dave said.
But thankfully, after Lyons started the campaign, donations quickly poured in for the Falk family and the campaign exceeded its goal. As of Wednesday, more than $8,000 in donations had come in.
The plight of the family, however, is not yet over.
They are currently staying at the Extended Stay America and have groceries, but their stay is up Friday. Lyons is trying to find them permanent housing, which she said is not an easy task.
According to Lyons, most of the subsidized housing in Seattle is full, especially for someone who is handicapped.
"We’ve hit nothing but closed doors with housing because of the wait lists," Dave said.
Dave said the family is on a list to be housed by the Rapid Emergency Housing Association and rated a 9 on a scale of 1-10 about how bad they need it.
“The hard part now is we have this money and there is no housing," Lyons said. "I thought raising the money would be hard but finding them subsidized permanent housing that is ADA accessible is the hard part. The system is broken.”
Lyons said time is running out for the family, as their hotel is until this Friday, and she doesn't want to continue wasting the money raised on expensive hotels.
But, the Falks are still thankful for all the help thus far.
"It’s been a nightmare. We weren’t ready [to be homeless] or used to this at all," Dave said. "These people have been such a blessing. My daughters have relaxed a whole lot."