NORWALK, Conn. -- Neighbors and friends donated nearly $3,000 on Friday to support a Norwalk homeless man who refuses to move into a shelter because he would have to leave his dog.
The outpouring of support came after a Daily Voice story detailed the story of "Joe" and his dog, Bronson, who live out of a van at a parking lot on Main Avenue. Norwalk resident Diana Paladino-Christopher created a GoFundMe page to support the man, who has been chronically homeless since losing his job. Click here to visit the page. She initially posted the fundraising page on the "We are From Norwalk CT" Facebook page.
Contributions started pouring in early in the morning Friday on the and the story was shared across of multitude of social media platforms. Contributions ranged from from $10 and up, with some posting encouraging messages. "I would live in a box on the sidewalk before I would part ways with my dogs. Onward and upward Joe and Bronson,'' Rudi Karukas wrote.
One former homeless woman even contributed. She wrote: "I was homeless for nearly 3 months, when a friend stepped up to help pull me out. That was just a few weeks ago and oh my, have things changed. I am grateful to Ms. Paladino and her child for caring about this man and his dog. Sometimes all a person needs is to feel acknowledged and appreciated and loved. Good things happen very quickly from there. I have five dollars. I will send more when I can."
"Often we find it easier to turn a blind eye but this time it took the curiosity and compassion of my three year old to bring a community together,'' Paladino said. "Together we did something about a situation. So many passed by these two and wondered or thought, just as I did. This cause showed that people really do want to help and there is truly still so much good in this world. Norwalk is a wonderful and diverse city with a great sense of community. This cause is honored by the perfect hashtag, #NorwalkCares."
With Friday's donations, the total donated swelled over $5,000 since the page was first launched in January. In addition, people inquired about making donations at Broad River Animal Hospital.
"I'm honored to be a part of it,'' Paladino said." It's an amazing feeling when you can do something for someone and actually see how it impacts them for the better. Joe and Bronson are courageous and strong. Thank you to everyone who has donated and thank you to the Norwalk Daily Voice for bringing attention to this cause once again. Let's keep it going! Don't stop! It's going to take so much more to truly change the lives of Joe and Bronson. Let's hope something can be done to get these two into housing together and never be homeless again!"