"I'm finally going home". Simple words for a big moment in the life of 59-year-old Steve Mays.
Thursday, he was homeless, living near the beach in Torrance. Friday, he was back in San Diego with the daughter he hadn't seen in eight year. The reunion is the work of Dan Collins and his daughter, Jen, Good Samaritans who only wanted to help Mays get out of the cold and rain, never expecting it to lead to such a life-changing event.
On Thursday, Dan Collins met Mays shivering in the rain near the beach in Torrance. Collins invited Mays to his home, offering him a warm shower, dry clothes, food and conversation. As they sat talking, Mays told Collins that booze and some bad breaks had led to his leaving home and living on the streets. Mays' said he lost touch with his family and wanted desperately to see his daughter, Dena Malone again. Collins' daughter, Jen, using Facebook, found Dena living in San Diego and called her. Dena explained how she had reported her father missing eight years ago. But, she said, she "never gave up hope" she would find him again.
Just one day after Dan took in Mays, Dena, her husband, her 27-year-old son, and her six-month-old grandson drove from San Diego to Torrance to see her dad. There was no hesitation. There were tears of happiness and hugs for everyone, including Dan, the man who put the emotional reunion into motion.
Steve is now back home in San Diego where, in addition to Dena and her husband, he has two grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
For Dan, taking in Steve was the right thing to do. He says he likes people and like to hear their stories. It also says a lot about his philosophy of life, easily summed up by the words found on his living room wall: "Faith is the strength by which a shattered world will emerge into light".