A Chicago man finally has a home, thanks to generous donations from over 400 strangers.
WLS-TV reports Norbert Pikula, 77, was living without a stable home since November.
For two weeks, Pikula spent his days walking the streets of Chicago. He found meals at a local soup kitchen, and each day rode the city's bus line to O'Hare Airport to spend the night, sleeping on chairs and benches.
At the soup kitchen, he met Annabelle Tuma, a volunteer, who took notice of his situation and started a GoFundMe page that quickly raised more than $20,000. It is more than enough to help Pikula rent a low-cost apartment.
Pikula explained on the GoFundMe Page he had been sleeping on a friend's sofa until his friend was admitted to the hospital and he couldn't access the apartment.
He also explained why he chose to sleep at the airport.
"For the past two weeks, I have been sleeping at O'Hare Airport because the shelters are full. I eat my meals at St. Stanislaus Kostka soup kitchen Monday through Thursday. On Saturdays, I eat at Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral. In the afternoons I use my senior citizen CTA pass to ride to O'Hare and enter the airport. I sleep on benches there and no one bothers me," Pikula noted.
The native Chicagoan has worked as a banker and a security guard. He also explained he's on the waiting list for senior CHA housing and subsidized Catholic Charities senior apartments, but had no luck in finding one.
"I'm just amazed at how generous people are," his advocate Sarah Boone, a Chicago Help Initiative volunteer coordinator, told WLS-TV. "You know, they don't just give money, they write notes. One woman put him up at a hotel for a few days."
A local bank also approved Pikula's account without a fixed address, so he can access the funds.
Pikula said he's thankful for the peace of mind.
"It took a long time, but my day came around," he told WLS.
Even though he doesn't know the people who helped him secure a home, he considers them almost like family.
"All the people that have donated to me, they're almost like a family -- almost. Pretty close to it," he said. "They helped me a lot. Without them, I would be lost."
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