Lifestyle & Human Interest

Old Friends Spot Homeless Man's Face in Newspaper, Raise Thousands To Get Him Back on His Feet


Coy Featherston was just another homeless man living in Austin, Texas, until the a local newspaper posted an article that had him as the cover photo in September.

While Featherston was likely unrecognizable in the image to many who’d once known him, the name printed in the caption under the Austin American-Statesman photo got several people’s notice.

One of those people reached out to Leea Mechling, who is the executive director of the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture. The writer of the email wanted to know if the “Coy Featherston” in the photo was the same one Mechling had gone to school with.

He was.

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“You can’t let things linger when you see something like this,” Mechling told The Washington Post. “You’ve got to rally the troops and jump right in.”

More than just intrigued, Mechling set off to find her old friend, and after several days of scouring the streets, she found him outside St. Austin Catholic Parish.

“It seems as though I’ve become the poster boy for homeless citizens here in Austin, and that doesn’t bother me,” Featherston said. “I want people to be aware of the fact that it can happen to them, too, if you don’t have a lot of things in place where it should all be.”

Thankfully, there were several people now in Austin who’d grown up with Featherston, and none of them had realized he’d been homeless until the news and the American-Statesman article got around.

They rallied to provide Featherston with a place to stay, food to eat, a bicycle and other supplies. Patrick Judd, one of his old friends, even set up a GoFundMe for the formerly homeless man, hoping to get him back on his own two feet.

“I’m Patrick Judd,” Judd wrote on the GoFundMe page. “I grew up in Corpus Christi Texas and have known Coy Featherston since going to both Jr High and High School with him in Corpus Christi, Texas in the mid 1960’s.”

“Up until a few weeks ago he was living on the street in Austin as a homeless person. He had no food, no shelter, no friends, no hope and no love.”

Judd detailed how Featherston had no discernible drug or alcohol issues and is an artistic soul who just needs a hand up.

“For most of us we haven’t seen or heard from Coy in over 20+ years!! Alot of us discussed what to do next and that finally led to me suggest starting this GoFundMe campaign to get him back on his feet again,” he said.

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“Coy has lived on the streets for an indeterminate number of years in both Atlanta Georgia and Austin Texas (Coy says since 1995!!!). He is 66 years old and definitely eligible for Social Security and Medicare however he doesn’t have a proper identification that shows citizenship (he was actually born in 1953 in the Philippines while his Dad was in the Navy stationed at Subic Bay).”

While the original goal was set at $2,000, over $14,000 had been raised for Featherston as of Thursday.

“This is going to work,” Featherston told The Post. “I’m hoping that it will, and that’s all I can do. I can only be positive about everything.”

“It’s on the upswing at present,” he added in an interview with the American-Statesman. “Hopefully, it’ll get better. I have a lot of encouragement from a lot of folks I’ve known for years and years. How do you stay away from friends? And you know they’re friends because they’re helping you.”

“It didn’t matter that it was 52 years later,” Don Vanderburg, another friend, told The Post. “Coy has character that few people have. He’s honest, and he’s trustworthy.”

“We’re all really excited about Coy possibly getting his life back,” Judd added. “He couldn’t be luckier in lots of ways, though he’s had some really horrible luck for many years.”

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