Without a Home Story - Matthew Hay-Chapman
I met Matthew Hay-Chapman in 2015. He was sleeping on a bench in the middle of the Golden Gate National Park in San Francisco. I only had $5 left in my wallet, but I approached Matt, put the money in his shoe, shook his hand and chatted a little. I said that I wished to hear his life story, but I could also see that he was tired from a long day, so I gave my email address, and within the next couple of days he emailed me his story. Below is the content of that email - unedited and raw. It’s a sad story, but I felt it needed to be shared.
Matthew Hay-Chapman's Story
Mon, Aug 3, 2015:
Hello Andy, thanks for the interest, but I'm not to sure if I'm at all interesting. My story is this grew up near Reno Nevada (the mountains) in a large family. I have 10 siblings. 8 brothers and 2 sisters. My dad was a career US Airforce military man,, both my parents are from the san francisco-berkeley area. My parents raised all of us in the catholic church including schools. I was a Carpenter and Building Engineer most of my work life I'm soon to be 55 years old. I have a 33 year old daughter Sarah is her name she was born a "premie" she weighed 1lb. 5 oz, , due to a brain hemorage she has multiple handi-caps severe cerebral-palsy, hydrochephalus and mild to severe mental retardation, Sarah's brother Allan is now 30 years old, Sarahs in a state home for the dis-abled she isn't allowed to eat or drink foods due to a severe gag-choking reflex.
My son Allan is a very gifted artist, but due to some very seriously bad life circumstances he and his ex-girlfriend about a year ago lost custody of there 2 children ,, Tree (3 yrs old) my granddaughter and her baby-brother Zecharia (1 yr old) to the State of Oregon Child Welfare Protective Services. My son and his ex-girlfriend Penny is her name ,have become addicted to hard-drugs , Penny crystal-methamphetimine and my son has opiate related addiction issues. I myself during this time ,about 18 months ago have become a homeless person as you and your very kind friends observed yesterday evening at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. I left my last employment as a night-manager for a small boutiqe-style hotel in Union Square, due to personal health related issues and I was also traveling to Oregon to attempt to help my son allan and my grand-children , but I wasn't able to gain temporary custody of them so they went straight into the foster-care system in oregon.
Right now presently i'm dealing with a serious health issue s anxiety-depression about family relations and physically ,, in both my feet called peripheile-neuropathy and I just have made attempts to seek medical care and HELP for the severe pain originaly started after I injured my lower-back 15 years ago in a work-related accident while lifting and turning and twisting causing a bulging disc, stenosis and some other 'big' long word that i can't pronounce or spell , and I fear that I have diabetes and problems associated with this disease on top of all this ,, and by the way please forgive the poor gramar and bad spelling. I have a huge phobia of doctors and reluctance to even care about my health just been struggling and attempting to manage all these crisis/problems are just so overwhelming well I'm still alive and above ground so if you would like to know more or anything else or have some wisdom or knowledge or if there was any way you could help, you Andy are the only person that is interested to care to ask and inquire
With Matt’s permission I’m sharing his story, along with his email address if you’re touched by it: firstname.lastname@example.org. At the time I met him he had a yahoo address, but it got shut down, so we missed a couple of emails from each other. I encouraged him to give me a gmail address and set up Google Wallet so I could transfer him $200 to help him visit his family over xmas. You can follow him on flickr here (including photo with his family over xmas he shared with me).
Update "Hard-luck Hero Matthew Hay-Chapman" in San Francisco Chronicles
Fri, Feb 5, 2016:
dear sweet man,, Andy you are truly the most incredible man that cared to ask about my my "LIFE STORY" and near the very last words in your story said that you hoped that strangers other people and events can lead to "INCREDIBLE THINGS,, IF!!!!! a person (people) just needs to reach out there hands to help those most in need. please read the FRONT page the of SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE's WEDNESDAY edition FEBRUARY 3rd 2016. titled Hard-luck HERO matthew hay-chapman,,,, thanks and GOD BLESS YOU EVEN more!!!! the GOD of ABRAHAM ISAAC and JACOB,,, YAHWEH!!!! and his PRECIUOS SON MY SAVIOR JESUS FOR THE INCREDIBLE AND AMAZING """MIRACLE(s) very many in one sabbath saturday last weekend at a McDonalds restaurant in th "haight"...love you brah.!! aloha MATTHEW HAY-CHAPMAN,, FEBRUARY 5th 2016
I was touched to get this email, and immediately found one of the articles of which Matt spoke: "Hard-luck hero helped police nab dangerous escapees". Could not have happened to a more deserving guy. I'm really thrilled about this! This story is one of inspiration and hope. Matt is an incredible guy! :)
Update Changing Luck
Fri, May 22, 2017:
My family my son, Allan has been clean and sober for over 14 months, and his "EX" Penny the mother of his children, my grandchildren, TREE & ZECHARIAH, she has been clean and sober (a very Beautiful young lady) since December of 2015 ((court-appointed drug rehabilitation program)) she Penny and Allan now both share custody. Tree, she is four years young & Zechariah will be three years old May 19<tomorrow>2017. THEY Tree & Zech. are OUT of the Oregon State Foster-Care System and have been "RE-UNITED" placed back with their parents since December, 2015!! Allan works at very good job, as a welder making custom trailers and has a new beautiful wife, her name is Kayci, she is a member of a rare (less than 1,000 family members) of a Southern Oregon Tribe, the Cow Creek Umpqua Band of NATIVE AMERICAN's. Kayci, has three very beautiful daughters my blessed, grand daughters, named Lexi, Ashley and Kadynce. I myself am working part-time as a handyman and very involved as a ""GRANDPA"" to my very beautiful reunited & restored family.
Matt keeps emailing me, it sounds like the police who offered Matt reward money for apprehending a criminal may have tried to dupe him out of his money, but I don't understand the full details, only that I hope he gets all that money he was promised. If you read the SF chronicle story above, what happened initially is that Matt called the police on seeing the criminal, and when they showed up they tried to arrest him too, for no good reason.
About "Without a Home Stories" in San Francisco
After meeting Matt, I decided I want to do this again. I don’t go to the city often, but if I happen to connect with another person down on their luck I’ll ask them to send me their story and, with their permission, post it for them. I’ll start with my good friend Matthew Walker, who is no longer homeless - in fact he’s doing very well - but has been homeless and down on his luck twice in life, in two different countries! I’ll add any more stories here:
How I Met Matthew
So how did i meet Matt? An amazing friend of mine, Lyubov Sysoska, had a friend from the Ukrainian visiting her in San Francisco, and asked me if I’d like to help show him the bay area. We had an amazing weekend, but the best part was exploring a part of [Golden Gate Park] I’d never seen before. There was beauty on every corner, but as it got dark and we left, I noticed a homeless gentleman had settled on one of the park benches under a blanket. It was the start of I had $5 left in my wallet, and I wanted to walk up to him and put the money into his shoe, but also afraid of startling him so I asked. He said that was very nice of me, we shook hands firmly and I suddenly just asked about his life story. In fact he was trying to sleep after a long hard day and my friends had plans to catch the bus home before it good dark so I couldn’t stay around long, but I said I wished there was some way to hear the rest of the story. He mentioned he was visiting the library tomorrow to write emails to his family. Strange as it was, I said “write me one too”, and gave him my business card. The story above is is the email he send, and when I read it I knew immediately I wanted to share it on my wiki page and post it to reddit.
I’m not sure what I want to achieve, I just feel that unheard stories like this need to be heard, so that people can have dialog. In his mail he says “Doctor”, but that’s because my poncy business card says “Dr” because I have a PhD… I’m sadly not the type of doctor who can help medically. I can only listen and promise him that I’ll share his story, maybe ask for suggestions.
There are still a lot of unemployed and homeless people too proud to beg, but I personally believe there should be more ways we can help employee these people to do incredible things. Sometimes it’s just a chance needed to get back on their feet - they just need someone to reach out their hand.
- (Good Morning America) Homeless man spots Hossein Nayeri after jail escape, 8-day manhunt ends: Part 8
- (WSB-TV) Homeless hero helps police capture fugitives