On 12/11/17, I was dispatched to a Public Storage in reference to a subject that had broken into the lot.
Around the holidays, there is a history and trend of these storage units being burglarized.
The alarm company who called 911 stated they saw a man in a hooded sweatshirt enter the office building and did not see him leave. They directed us to the door which the subject entered, and it was the restroom. The door was locked and we could not get in.
After knocking and announcing who we were, the subject came out of the bathroom. As we expected, it was the subject in the hooded sweatshirt that the alarm company saw on camera. However; to our surprise, the subject did not break into the storage lot, instead he was already inside the business and had been for over three weeks because he was surviving out of a storage unit.
The man's name is Ernest Ricks, and this is his story...
Mr. Ricks was born in 1949 and for the past several years had been living in an assistant living home, about three miles down the street from the storage unit. Mr. Ricks was in the assistant living home because he is legally blind (can partially see out of one of his eyes) and gets around using his walking stick. In the middle of November 2017, the assistant living home shut down its business, and instead of helping Mr. Ricks find a home somewhere else, he was forced to the street. Mr. Ricks walked all of his belongings those three miles using a grocery cart to this storage unit, and has been sleeping inside on his fold up cot for over three weeks now.
Mr. Ricks has worked a number of jobs making a living for himself. He worked at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital, Rite Aid, and is a retired employee of Dollar General. But unfortunately, in his condition, he can no longer work and relies on his small monthly income to survive.
Mr. Ricks is doing everything he can to get himself into a retirement home, and is on the waiting list for one right here in town. However; they informed him that he would not be able to move in for a minimum of 6 months.
On 12/12/17, I visited Mr. Ricks again in the storage unit he is staying in. As I expected, he was in the same clothes he had worn the night before. I brought him a knew pair of socks, sweat pants, sweatshirt, and a extra blanket, and if you saw the look on this man's face you would have thought he just won the Mega Millions Powerball.
It was below freezing and I could tell Mr. Ricks was freezing so we cranked the heat up in my vehicle and sat there and talked for an hour while he warmed up. This is when I found out some more about Mr. Ricks.
He told me he was scheduled for eye surgery at Johns Hopkins on the upcoming Monday, but he didnt know how he was going to get there because the bus routes have changed, but his attitude was still positive because he was so excited to hopefully have better vision. Mr. Ricks then told me he hasnt had a full shower since before he was kicked out of his old home, and has been "freshening up" using the sink in the restroom that we originally found him. I also learned that sugar cookies were his favorite cookie.
Mr. Ricks has one of the best personalities Ive ever seen, especially with what hes going through... Sleeping in a storage unit that has no light or electricty at all while dealing with below freezing tempatures... Not knowing if he will actually end up being able to live at the retirement home that hes on the waiting list for... having no friends or family that he can talk to or rely on... and being blind but still having to make his way around town... with all that, he is still grateful to be alive, doesnt think anyone owes him anything, and is soo excited to turn 70 in just over a year.
Later this week, Mr. Ricks is going to go home with me to take a hot shower, eat homemade sugar cookies, and sleep in a real bed. But thats just going to be a small gesture to help. I would love to surprise Mr. Ricks with enough money that we can take and get him an apartment for the next 6 months while hes "on a waiting list" to get into a retirement home.
Its the Holiday season, lets give this good man a home!