An emotional reunion on the streets of Portland, Maine, Wednesday morning was made possible by social media, after a daughter spotted her father on a Facebook page dedicated to helping the homeless.
“I was extremely surprised — I was just scrolling through my newsfeed,” said Rachel Beek, recalling the moment she saw her father, Kenny, featured on the Maine Homeless Veterans Alliance Facebook page. “I was brought to tears.”
The MHVA Director, Roger Goodoak, wrote a post about Kenny on the night of December 23. Goodoak had been doing his usual drive through downtown Portland, looking for anyone on the streets who needed help. The MHVA delivers everything from blankets, to gloves, to coffee to the homeless.
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Kenny asked him if he could use his cell phone to call his mother on her birthday. The two hadn’t spoken for years.
“He was crying saying ‘Hi mom, it's me,” Goodoak posted on Facebook. “I stood by my van wiping tears from my eyes thinking how much I love what I do.” The post included a photo of Kenny, and quickly received hundreds of likes and shares.
“Facebook went crazy,” said Goodoak.
When Kenny’s daughter saw it — it brought mixed emotions.
“It was sad,” she said. “But it was a good kind of sad, knowing that someone was actually trying to help my dad.”
Through the MHVA Facebook page, Beek and Goodoak connected and started to discuss ways to help Kenny. They talked about raising money to buy him a plane ticket, to send him to Arizona to see family and go to rehab.
But first — they came up with ways to give him a surprise.
“He has no idea I’m here,” said Beek, who drove from Bangor to Portland Wednesday afternoon. She hadn’t seen her father in more than a year, and didn’t know where he was living.
Volunteers with the MHVA located Kenny in the Old Port district, and brought him to see his daughter.
“It’s amazing,” said Kenny, as he hugged his daughter. “I haven’t seen you in a while.”
The two had lunch, discussed his potential visit to Arizona, and had the chance to connect in person — all because of social media.