MANASSAS, Va. — WUSA9 got an email from our news tips line (firstname.lastname@example.org) this week from a woman in Manassas who was surprised she was having so much trouble finding help for a man who so clearly needed it.
Alvin King has no arms nor legs, but he has big dreams -- even after spending the night in his wheelchair, trying to sleep in a Costco parking lot.
King is living in the Manassas Red Roof Inn now, but it's only temporary.
"This is my new buddy," said Dana Sharman, giving King a hug.
"It's very hard," said King, through tears.
When Sharman first met King three weeks ago, the 42-year-old was alone on the sidewalk, trying to balance his suitcase as he pushed his electric wheelchair down the street.
"I found out he was homeless, and had spent the night, that previous night, in the parking lot," she said.
He was on his way to the social services office to ask for assistance.
"And it was quite a ways," said Sharman.
When they got there, Sharman said they told her there was nothing they could offer right away, but she could help fill out applications to get King SNAP and Medicaid.
"Miss Dana just taking the time to fill out the applications with me, it really means a lot," King said, smiling at her.
King was born with birth defects he believes are tied to his mom taking the medication Thalidomide for morning sickness when she was pregnant with him. He lived with his mom as an adult, but she passed away in March.
He spent the next few months in a nursing home in Baltimore County. But he says it was so horrible that he put himself on a bus to Manassas. He grew up nearby.
"Alvin is not looking for a castle," said Sharman. "He is just simply looking for a roof over his head, where he's safe and warm. For food. And he does need help, there's no way around that. He has no arms and no legs, so he needs old-fashioned care-giving."
Sharman is trying to organize an army of volunteers to help.
She just set up a GoFundMe, hoping to gather enough so he can move into a home.
For immediate needs, she sent us this list:
"* A place to live (He's been temporarily placed in a Red Roof Inn by Adult Protective Services. Alvin has applied for subsidized houses in a nearby apartment complex, but is 11th on the waiting list.)
* Supplemental caregiving outside of provided 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. daily. Alvin has a caregiver provided by APS. From 3:00 p.m. on, he's completely on his own. So donations/money would go to pay a caregiver for at least an hour or two in the evenings to help with bathroom needs and dinner.
* Food (apples, grapes, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, baby carrots, clean protein like chicken or deli turkey, cooked veggies. (He doesn't want to eat too much pasta, breads, starches because he doesn't exert a lot of energy and can't afford to put on weight as it would make it even more difficult for him to lift himself).
*Just plain old companionship - he does feel very alone
* Down the road an adaptive computer w/ voice typing software so he can take online classes and send correspondence to Medicaid, social services, etc..... He dreams of being a motivational speaker one day.
* Down the road - at least one prosthetic arm would be AMAZING to improve quality of life. Just being able to go to the bathroom himself and feed himself would be life-changing and the freedom/independence of a sort would be priceless."
"I really want to help him. He deserves it," Sharman said while breaking down in tears.
King desperately wants to be independent. He dreams of following his idol, Nick Vujicic, an Australia man without arms or legs who has become an advocate for people with disabilities.
"When I see a person that has arms and legs and they are really being lazy.... It damages my spirits, you know," King said.
Lend him a hand and he thinks he could help the world. He laughed and smiled at the thought. Sharman said he's always thinking about other people, despite his own challenges.
King is getting some help from Social Security, and now food, health and temporary housing assistance from social services.
But Sharman said the long-term solution cannot possibly be to send such a bright and generous spirit back to wither away the rest of his life in a nursing home.