After 10 years of living on the streets in Oakland, California, Greg Dunston and Marie Mckinzie have a new normal thanks to a generous Bay Area homeowner who wanted to improve their lives and share the message that homelessness is not “contagious.” The pair now live in a $4 million mansion in the upper-class East Bay neighborhood of Piedmont with Terry McGrath, who was determined to commit a simple act of kindness after a story was published about them in the San Francisco Chronicle.
How did this come about? It happened because Mr. McGrath decided that he could do something about a situation he was made aware of. While there might be some who live on the streets because that is where they wish to be, that is not everyone, many are there because they have no choice. For Dunston and McKinzie that was how it was. “I don’t want to live on the streets. A lot of people do, but I want to get in,” she added. “I love to cook a lot so I wanted a kitchen, bed and shower.” Their being on the streets was not desired and yet San Francisco is the wealthiest city in the U.S.A. with more billionaires per capita than any other city in the country, according to the Wealth-X Billionaire Census 2019. San Francisco’s homeless population has also hit a record high, with nearly 8,000 people living on the street and in their cars. Such disparity can be called nothing more than a choice and it isn’t being made by those on the streets.
For Mr. McGrath the choice was easy: “The thing that struck me and got me right away was the love between Greg and Marie and how it was able to survive in probably one of the harshest environments on earth,” McGrath explained. “I could feel it.” He met with Taylor and the couple in a cafe and said he was immediately moved to help them. “There was no decision, there was no thought, there was no judgement. I was just like ‘this is done,'” Taylor recalled. “I didn’t vet them. These are human beings and they’re not serial killers. They want to get in out of the weather. They want a roof over their head. They want to be warm.”
It wasn’t without difficulties, prejudices are prevalent among some communities and McGrath’s was no different. Fortunately he had prepared local police for his guests with a phone call so they were able to respond appropriately to the inappropriate calls.
Although he knows his own efforts to fight homelessness is not a universal solution, McGrath felt like it could inspire others to not look away from the problem. McGrath wants Dunston and Mckinzie to get back on their feet and find jobs but there’s no timetable for them to leave his home. “They’re like family. There’s no way I’m going to let them go back to the street,” he said. “Most people who know me well know it’s easy to start and it’s hard to finish. And I’m never not going to finish.” This kindness and welcome is your Good News Story of the Day, with far more to read about here, and with a little luck it will do as McGrath hopes and offers inspiration to action.
Story and Image from ABC News.