James’ family was unaware he even existed.
There are some people we meet in life who have a profound impact on us. Some people can never be erased from our memories, regardless of how they treated us, acted, or did all of the above.
He had spent more than ten years residing on the streets of Little Rock, Arkansas. People who lived in the area, such as Jodi and Dawn Gieber, got used to seeing him.
Dawn would go to the courthouse, and Jodi would patrol the streets, and the two would pass James on their way to work. James had a reputation for being a bit cold, but Dawn and Jodi knew this was untrue. Dawn mentioned this to Faith Pot:
“People would say James was very angry. James was a mean person. He wasn’t. James was just hungry.”
“He was cold. He was eating out of dumpsters. James just had no resources and my husband and I just felt that there was something we needed to do to help him.”
Trying to help a stranger
On her way to work one day, Dawn made the decision to stop and talk to James.
Dawn wanted to demonstrate her concern for the homeless because so many of us pass them by without even glancing in their direction. She questioned James about his initial state of homelessness.
James acknowledged that he had taken a bad turn and that he had lost touch with his family. He was unsure of how to locate them at this time.
Helping someone else
Dawn made the decision to act independently as a result. When she got home, she talked about what James had said to her husband. After conducting a Google search, the two started making phone calls, sending emails, and posting on social media.
Dawn and Jodi might not have anticipated receiving a reply, but they soon did. Dawn elucidated:
“It was right before Thanksgiving and we get a call back from his niece. They had been looking for him and thought he was dead.”
The search for his family
The heartbreaking reality was that James’ family loved and cared for him, but they had searched for him in vain and had feared the worst.
Dawn assured James’ niece that her uncle was in fact still alive and had been looking for her for fifteen years.
Dawn and Jodi set up a phone call for James to speak to his family in order to demonstrate to James’ niece that they weren’t lying. They couldn’t believe how moved James was when talking to his long-lost relatives. At that point, they understood that James needed to meet his loved ones face-to-face in order to properly reunite with them.
James, however, was unable to leave Little Rock because of a number of outstanding warrants, which presented a problem for the couple. Dawn stood before the court, explained James’ predicament, and offered to settle the warrants because she was determined to assist James in returning to his rightful place. All charges were dropped by the judge, and the case was concluded.
Now the adventure could begin. James traveled 600 miles in Dawn and Jodi’s car to visit his family in Illinois, but not before they first gave him a new outfit and pair of shoes for the journey.
James’ emotional reunion with his brother, who gave him a hug and slapped his back, and his niece, who cried while holding onto him, was captured by Dawn.
James and his sister are currently residing in Wisconsin. Pictures of James taking advantage of his second chance at life, hanging Christmas lights, and taking a nap on the couch with the family dog are sent to Dawn and Jodi by the family.
The tale of James’ family reunion carries a poignant lesson: listening to others can significantly improve their quality of life. Some people in Little Rock found James to be a little frightening, but Dawn recognized the reasons for his rage and frustration and genuinely wanted to know how she could help him.
We are all the same, she said. Simply show a little respect to everyone. You know, things happen, and regrettably, people find themselves without a home or in challenging circumstances they weren’t prepared for. Just keep in mind that we’re all people.
James is now enjoying his time with a family who believed he was dead because of Dawn. James’ brother claimed that Jodi and Dawn had successfully reunited their family.
The heartwarming scene of James’ family reunion can be seen below. This is a lovely reminder of how important family is.