Homeless has a family...At least for a day.

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It’s 3:54pm on November 29th 2008 and Danny Spencer,61, claims to have the best piece of real estate and the best neighbors in town.
Spencer lives under the Miami-Dade Metro rail between 14 &15 St. and US-1, he pays no rent and has the freedom of moving from place to place without dealing with property taxes.
“He’s been around here since we moved back in 2006,” says Sandra Mercado, a home owner near the area. “Danny never asks for handouts.” Instead, the Mercado family usually hires Spencer for odd jobs around the house so he doesn’t go hungry. “There’s always something to be painted or something to be fixed around the house,” said Marco Mercado.
However, this year they invited Spencer to spend Thanksgiving with them.
“It’s like his a part of the family,” says Sandra. “She even worries about him when she doesn’t see him for a day or two,” states Marco.
The Mercado’s property faces US-1. So they set up a table and chairs in their front lawn and invited Spencer around for a feast; salad, stuffing, turkey, rice and black beans, plantains, drinks, and above all, a sense of belonging even if just for a day.
“I never thought I would have been on the street. You never dream of growing up and being homeless. I’ve been blessed in many ways. Take a look at this view…I’m walking distance from the park, stores, and public transportation, and my adoptive family,” says Spencer with a smile.
Spencer was born in Knoxville, Kentucky to a blue collar family. “My mother was a housewife and my father worked everywhere to try to provide,” says Spencer. “Sometimes we wouldn’t see him for weeks and then he’d show up be home for a day or two and then gone again.”
When he was old enough, he enlisted in the Army and went to Vietnam. He refused to talk much about that except, “It’s tough being in the trenches and talking to someone about home and the next second…when they stop replying…you look to see a bullet in their head.”
When he came back from the war he worked at a local department store. “Coming home from the war, I needed something to preoccupy my time and thoughts. I wasn’t right in the noggin (head),” confesses Spencer.
He moved around from city to state, working at department stores as a stock boy or construction jobs. “I lived in the north and as I got older I liked the warm weather more and more.”
In 1998 he came to Florida. He had saved up enough money to rent a room. The job pay was good enough doing construction that he had a roof over his head and did not go hungry.
With his paycheck he would keep enough to pay the bills and sent the rest back home. “My dad wasn’t the perfect father, but he did what he could with what he was given,” says Spencer.
Two years after his arrival to Miami, 2001, his mother died and Spencer went into a depression. He stopped working and since he was living from paycheck to paycheck he was forced to be on the street.
“I never really formed a bond with my father; the only sense of true human interaction was with my mother... This is supposed to be a happy day,” says Spencer as a tear rolls down his face. However, he quickly wipes it away with a smile.
Soon after the feast starts to arrive at the table.“I hope this is to your liking,” says Marco as he smiles at Spencer. “Are you kidding?” says Spencer with a boyish enthusiasm. “Can I help set up?”
Sandra quickly replies, “Don’t worry about it, we have it all under control.” Two minutes later the feast is on the table and Spencer asks if he could say the prayer.
“Dear God,
Thanks for another day,
for this wonderful meal and these great friends,
I’m fortunate not to hungry today,
and I hope with your blessing people have a meal and the courage to life another day.
Thank you god for everything,
Amen!”


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