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Woman Realizes the Homeless Man She Bumped Into Is Her Childhood Friend – Does Everything to Get Him Back on His Feet
Woman Recognizes Homeless Man as Former Classmate and Helps Him Get off the Streets
Uplifting News

Woman Realizes the Homeless Man She Bumped Into Is Her Childhood Friend – Does Everything to Get Him Back on His Feet

Nearly 40 years later, she never forgot his kindness and wanted to pay it back.

No matter how much we may want it to, life doesn't always go our way. And no one knows this better than 69-year-old Coy Featherston.

When Coy was in high school, he never could have imagined where he'd eventually end up. Starting running back on the football team, voted “Best All Around Boy,” and one of the most popular kids in school, he was living his best life.


However as the years passed, life took its toll. After struggling to find work, Coy found himself living on the streets. For more than two decades.

Until a long-lost childhood friend stepped in and helped him back on his feet, proving that true friendship really does last a lifetime.

What Happened to Coy Featherston

After high school Coy attended the University of Texas on a football scholarship but left within a year. He started touring with music legend Frank Zappa and worked as a concert lighting director for 15 years. But after losing his job in 1989, his life spiraled into darkness.

He tried to start over in Atlanta, Georgia working various jobs but nothing stuck. In an interview with the Washington Post, Coy shared that he suffered a number of devastating setbacks, including the loss of both his brother and his apartment.

At the same time, he also faced a few misdemeanor charges when he fought to save his property from theft. He returned to Austin, Texas, broken and defeated, struggling with mental health issues, and living on the streets.

How a Newspaper Article Alerted a Homeless Man’s Childhood Friends of His Plight

man sleeping on the street
Photo by MART PRODUCTION

Fast forward to 2019. A local newspaper, The Austin American Statesman, ran a story about homelessness and a photo of Coy graced the front cover.

The article — about a battle brewing over dueling laws around a homeless camping ban in certain areas of the city — featured a picture of a disheveled Featherston pushing a shopping cart filled with his belongings in the rain.

When the article was published, Leea Mechling, who knew Coy in middle school, received an email from a friend asking: "Was the Coy Featherston in that photo the same one she grew up with in Corpus Christi?"

Turns out, he was.

“I got online and found [the article] and it was [Coy],” Mechling told KVUE. “I saw my friend and I just couldn’t leave him out there.”

After three days of endless searching, she found him, feeding pigeons outside St. Austin Catholic Parish.

“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.”

And rally the troops she did.

How Childhood Friends Came Together to Help Their Homeless Classmate

After finding her friend, Mechling didn't hesitate. She invited Coy to come stay with her. In the amount of time it took her to load up his belongings, word spread. By the time they reached her house, their childhood pals had mobilized, collecting food, shoes, and clothing for Coy.

It had been over 40 years since many of them had seen Coy, but as far as their friendship went, it might as well have been yesterday.

“The fact that he was in dire straits, really affected us," said Don Vanderburg, who told KVUE that he and Coy were in a band together growing up. “It’s like finding your brother on the street. You would bring them home and help them." 

The group of friends banded together, getting him a cell phone and adding him to a plan, getting him dental work done, and sorting out his social security.

Patrick Judd, another one of Coy's old friends also started a GoFundMe. In the description he wrote in part, "Up until a few weeks ago he [Coy] was living on the street in Austin as a homeless person. He had no food, no shelter, no friends, no hope and no love."

Not anymore. The campaign blew its original target of $2000 and raised a whopping $25,385. More than enough to pay some medical bills and get Coy off the streets.

With the support of his friends and the community, Coy was able to find a place to live and start the process of rebuilding his life.

He Never Would Have Gotten by Without the Help of His Friends

Coy is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love and support he's received. He credits his childhood friends for getting him back on his feet and giving him a new start.

"I don't know if I'd really gotten through it without my friends. Make friends now," Coy told CBS News. "You may need them someday. You may be glad that you have them – because it can happen to anyone." 

Coy's story is a true testament to the enduring power of friendship. And proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the old saying, "No man is poor who has friends," holds true.

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