Homelessness remains a pressing issue in the United States, with approximately 17 individuals experiencing homelessness for every 10,000 people in the general population. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the number of homeless individuals has been steadily increasing, with an estimated 553,742 people without shelter on any given night.
While a permanent solution to homelessness has yet to be found, there are compassionate strangers who step in to help whenever possible. One such example is Philip Vu, a 24-year-old vlogger who formed a friendship with a homeless man in New Haven, Connecticut. Moved by their connection, Vu orchestrated a surprise that is truly heartwarming.
(YouTube/Philip Q Vu)
Vu initially met Mike when he was attempting to earn some money by cleaning car windows on a cold night. Though Vu declined the service, he treated Mike to a falafel sandwich, and the two engaged in a candid conversation inside Vu’s car. Capturing the moment on camera, Vu shared his own life story as an immigrant from a modest background and his decision to travel the world after college. He eventually quit his bank job to focus on helping others while creating content for TikTok and YouTube.
The emotionally charged video of their heartfelt conversation gained over a million views, with many TikTok users expressing a desire to assist Mike. Inspired by the outpouring of support, Vu initiated a fundraising campaign. Through the collective efforts of his TikTok followers, friends, and generous contributions, they were able to raise $15,000 for Mike, with $1,000 received via Venmo and $14,000 through GoFundMe. Additionally, a friend secured a collection of warm clothes from Capelli Sports for Mike.
Vu decided to surprise Mike with the news during the Chinese New Year celebration after treating him to lunch at a well-known burger joint in the city. They returned to the spot where they first met for another heartfelt conversation before Vu presented him with the clothing from Capelli Sports and a traditional red envelope containing the $1,000 raised on Venmo.
Emotional moment homeless man bursts into tears after strangers raise $17,000 to put a roof over his head in Connecticut pic.twitter.com/NE5Bhi5shR— Blanche Victoria (@tammytabby) March 30, 2021
Overwhelmed by the gesture, Mike was deeply moved and expressed his gratitude. Unbeknownst to him, there was even more in store. Vu asked if there was someone he trusted with a bank account who could assist him because an additional $14,000 was waiting to be given to him.
Mike, overcome with emotion, embraced Vu and thanked him for his thoughtfulness and generosity. He even conveyed his appreciation to Vu’s mother through the video, recognizing her amazing son. Vu expressed his satisfaction in helping Mike achieve his dream of finding stable housing in 2021.
(YouTube/Philip Q Vu)
According to Metro, Mike has utilized the funds to purchase clothes, food, and a phone for ongoing communication. He is currently in the process of obtaining his social security number, birth certificate, and applying for low-income housing. Vu has also facilitated Mike’s engagement with financial advisors to ensure responsible use of the funds and help him regain stability in life.