Pay It Forward: Helping the Homeless

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The problem of homelessness is a never-ending one in cities large and small.  And those working the front lines know this all too well.

"I've always had a heart for those who were less fortunate," says Michael Gayman, a Davenport volunteer with Oaks of Mamre Catholic Worker program.

In Michael Gayman's world, helping others is everything.

"I tend to work with folks nobody else works with."

Michael is a Catholic Worker who doesn't just volunteer, he lives the lifestyle.
He supervises two Quad City shelters for homeless men, living at poverty levels in one of them to better understand the people he helps.

"As long as you're there to help yourself, he'll be there 100-percent", says shelter resident Nick.

And Nick says for the past three years, Michael has been there for him.

"He will do whatever he needs to do to meet the needs of the people he's working with," says Colleen Willman from the Safer Foundation, an organization that helps convicts re-enter society through education and employment.

Colleen decided to nominate Michael with the News 8/Ascentra Credit Union Pay It Forward program and surprise him with 300-dollars he can use.

"Hey Mike on behalf of Channel 8 and Ascentra Credit Union, we would like to give you this money to Pay It Forward for all the good work that you do in the community," said Willman during the presentation of the cash award.

If there's ever a person who will give of himself it's Michael Gayman.  He lives with 11 men who are either mentally disabled or fighting against addictions.

"What we can do with them in that moment is to just talk with them," said Michael.

"Maybe they need a hug, maybe they need a little re-assurance that tomorrow will be a better day."

And he does it not in a comfortable office, but inside the very shelters that house those most in need.

He's travelled the world but says it's his mission to live communally, to help people where they need it most,

"I don't worry about my 401-K", he says.

"I don't worry about my 9 to 5 job.  Sometimes I think it would be nice to have that structure, to be able to know when you're off work and when you're not."

But it's that unending commitment that makes his work, his life.

"He exhibits such compassion, kindness, non-judgmental, and he always goes above and beyond for those he serves," says Colleen.

If you know of someone doing selfless good deeds in the community, why not nominate them for the Pay It Forward award.  You can get details, and the nomination form, by clicking on this link.