by Cassy Fiano | August 28, 2017 7:06 pm
Far too often, people don’t treat homeless people with the dignity and respect they deserve — let alone going above and beyond to help them. But one community came together to give a homeless couple the most incredible day of their lives.
Evelyn Adams Barlett and David “Rocky” Barlett had been together for 22 years, but had never gotten married. Originally from Ohio, the couple traveled to Tampa, Florida after “a few pretty bad spells” after Rocky received a job offer. Sadly, the job didn’t work out and the couple was left homeless.
For three years, the two of them were living in a makeshift camp in the woods. And that’s how Tampa Police Department’s homeless liaison officer Daniel McDonald found them. “They had tents, a portable toilet, propane stoves, a makeshift shower and whatnot,” McDonald said. “Rocky would work odd jobs from time to time and they’d collect things as they could from here and there.” McDonald told their story to local media and the community rallied together to help them.
When the owners of the Cross Creek Ranch in Dover, Florida heard the story, they offered to throw the couple a wedding for free. “It has been so moving to see how excited they are and it has been as much a gift for our staff, myself, my husband and our staff as much as it is for them,” said Bonnie McSharry. Soon, other vendors heard about the wedding and wanted to pitch in. A dress was donated, as well as a tuxedo, flowers, food, drinks and even rings.
“We didn’t do this all ourselves,” said Nancy Spooner, director of weddings for Cross Creek Ranch. “When we started making calls to caterers, photographers, florists and other vendors — before we could finish asking them for stuff, they were already ready to donate. They were like, ‘You need a cake? You got it!’ Or ‘You need rings? They’re on the way.'”
McDonald was thrilled. “We do have a lot of challenges working with the homeless, so it is nice to have a victory like this, it is nice to see them happy and starting a new chapter in their life,” he said.
And the wedding wasn’t all: McDonald was able to help get them an apartment, rent-free, until they are able to find a reliable source of income. And the couple was beyond grateful. “We literally stayed up till 3 a.m. this morning just looking in amazement at everything we have,” Evelyn said. “It’s like a mansion. We are so grateful to be able to get this new, fresh start to our lives.”
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