The couple tracked down his family and also raised money to book a hotel room for him for a couple of nights.
Randi Emmans was out walking her dog a few weeks ago when she noticed a homeless man talking to himself outside her Los Angeles apartment. "What I was listening to was breaking my heart," the 33-year-old told The Washington Post. "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." Emmans immediately got her boyfriend, John Suazo, and the two approached the man with some essential supplies to ask him about his life.
The man, who introduced himself as Pedro Reid, said he was happy to talk since no one else had ever asked him before. "He was so impressive," said 34-year-old Suazo, who is an actor. "The whole conversation really touched us." Reid informed the couple that he had left his family home in Charleston, S.C., and moved to L.A. in 1999 to live with an aunt. However, he found himself homeless a year later due to drug and alcohol addiction. He cast about for years on the streets of L.A., struggling to find his footing or a permanent roof above his head.
At the age of 54, Reid had little hope that his life would ever change. However, "the thought of reuniting with my family was always on my mind," he said. He explained that he felt comfortable talking to Emmans and Suazo because they didn’t judge him and — much to his surprise — seemed genuinely interested in getting to know him. "John and Randi saw me as more than what everyone else saw me as — just a homeless person living on the streets," Reid said. "They believed in me, despite the situation they found me in."
Today's #CovidCallout goes to LA couple Randi and John who after talking with Pedro, a homeless man living outside their building, raised money for him to see family he hadn't seen in 20 years and to help him get back on his feet 💞💞☺👏👏https://t.co/EZXBi3CvoX— Alex Di Trolio (@alexditrolio) August 14, 2020
The couple gave him a backpack filled with food, water, a blanket, and other daily essentials that Emmans had leftover in her car from a charity she runs providing necessities for the homeless during the holidays. "But we wanted to do more," she explained. Emmans posted a public plea for donations on Facebook, to help cover the costs of a night or two at a hotel to give Reid some much-needed rest, the opportunity to get cleaned up, and have a few hot meals. "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," she wrote.
"And he said at night he is just so cold- so I got him a big blanket. He is so incredibly kind and smart. He said he can't wait to be able to turn on a light switch in a home again or go into the refrigerator," continued Emmans, who works at Netflix. "We got his family members' names to try to find them and reconnect them to him. No luck so far but we're really working on it. All this being said- our plan is to get him a hotel room for a couple of nights so he can shower and get a couple of good nights rest. If anyone wants to help by donating it would be SO appreciated. We will be buying him some hot meals and getting him a few nights in a hotel"
The couple raised $6,500 in just a matter of 72 hours and were able to pay for Reid’s stay at a hotel for one week. They also got him a cellphone and some new clothes. "From 2000 until just a few days ago, I never once stayed in a home or a hotel," said Reid, adding that he didn't sleep in shelters because "they were worse than the streets." Finding his family wasn't easy as it had been years since he'd contacted any of them. Reid, who moved to L.A. without an identification card, was in and out of jail for petty crimes like shoplifting and once told officers during an altercation that his name was Franklin Mitchell.
That became his assumed name from then on, making it impossible for his family to locate him. "I lost all contact with them, too," Reid said. "I didn’t know where anybody was, and I had no idea that anyone was looking for me. I was all alone." He gave Emmans and Suazo a few names and his grandmother’s address, although unsure whether she still lived there or even whether she was still alive. "Randi and I started plugging away on the Internet, and we were able to find his grandmother’s name associated with the address," said Suazo. "We called wrong numbers until, finally, we got someone who was his uncle’s ex-wife."
Reid’s uncle, Pierre Grant, immediately contacted the couple when his ex-wife told him about the call she'd received. "John started telling me about what took place between them and Pedro, and I knew immediately he was talking about my nephew," Grant said. "For over 20 years, we had been praying and believing that one day we would find him, and the day finally came. This is a miracle." Reid finally met his family on August 7 and his eyes filled with tears as he wrapped his arms around Grant and his cousin, Mia Green, who journeyed from Atlanta to L.A. to meet him.
They spent the night in Hollywood and drove back to Reid’s childhood home in Charleston the next morning. He now lives with his aunt and uncle there and plans to further his education and eventually find himself a stable job. "I believe I can help a lot of people that are still in the position that I was in," he said. Speaking of Emmans and Suazo, Reid added: "Their names will forever be etched on my heart. I'm indescribably thankful that they cared enough to get me home."