There are plenty of stories regarding the trials and tribulations of the world’s homeless population, some good and some bad. Sometimes, the kindness in their hearts can lead to the stroke of providence they need to get back on their feet.
In this story, it wasn’t just a kind deed for a stranger or just being fortunate. This yielded the best possible outcome for everyone involved.
In November 2017, Constable Jason Kirkwood was walking away from an ATM when he heard his named called. He’s a “special constable” that’s assigned to the Toronto Community Housing, and he’s known the man who called his name for about five years through that assignment.
Kirkwood has worked with the homeless, and especially those with addictions, during his time there. This man approaching him was Danny MacKillop, 38, and he was a heroin and fentanyl addict.
“I saw it was Danny, and I thought, ‘Uh-oh,’ as I know he saw me at the bank machine,” Kirkwood said. As most might, he was expecting MacKillop to ask him for money.
Instead, though, Kirkwood said, “he asked me how much I had taken out. Then he asked me to count it.”
In this situation, I would have plainly said no and walked away, but being a constable and knowing the man, he counted his money — still on guard — and realized he was missing $40 of the $160 he had withdrawn from the ATM.
Even though I wouldn’t have answered any of those questions, had I realized that I was missing money after an encounter like that, I would be extremely suspicious. But MacKillop wasn’t a thief.
He actually pulled the money out of his pocket and handed it right over to Kirkwood. He said the constable had forgotten it at the machine.
“I said, ‘Wow, Danny, thanks,'” said Kirkwood. “I thought wow, that was pretty amazing for someone who is a substance user and has no source of real income, to give me back my money. So I wrote about it on Facebook.”
Later, he told MacKillop about the post when they ran into each other again. MacKillop made a slightly odd request, but it would end up working in his favor.
He asked Kirkwood to tag him in the post, “‘so my mom doesn’t think I’m such a bad guy.'” And so Kirkwood obliged.
“I tagged him and then my page exploded with messages from Cape Breton,” said Kirkwood. One of those people messaging him was none other than Mary MacKillop, Danny’s mother.
She hadn’t heard from her son in two years, and even worse, hadn’t seen him in eight. “I was dazed,” said Mary MacKillop. “I was trying to put it all together in my mind…. he’s there, I gotta go.”
Her sister accompanied her. “We checked every soup kitchen, every hostel, spoke to the security guard at different places,” she said.
And as they were giving up on the search, something incredible happened. “This man passed me by and said, ‘Hey, I know you — you’re my mother,'” said Mary.
A kind deed to a constable lead to the reunion of mother and son, and not only that, but Danny was able to get into a rehabilitation center in Vancouver with the help of some friends. He had been to rehab before, but this time, “he really wants to get clean,” his mother said.
“Danny is calling me every day. Every day, he sounds more positive,” she said. Mary plans to visit her son again soon.
As Kirkwood put it: “You got this.”
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