House provides miracles for ex-homeless man with arthritis

MARYSVILLE – One of the tenants in the Miracle House is Rick Williams, 65, formerly of Mukilteo.

Williams breaks the stereotype of the kind of person often thought of as homeless. He is not an alcoholic, a drug addict or have a mental illness.

He has arthritis.

Williams said he was unable to continue driving a limo for a job because of debilitating arthritis. He lived off his savings for awhile, but then lost his condo when that money ran out. He couldn’t afford his medicine so the arthritis just got worse.

Williams said he should have reached out for help, and he may have not lost his condo.

“I’d never been on public assistance,” he said. “I was embarrassed, depressed.”

He was living in a cardboard box for a few weeks, when a police officer got him help from the Everett Gospel Mission.

Williams said he was lucky to get help so quickly.

“It was because you were clean,” said Debbie Whitfield, one of four church members to help the three men in the Miracle House.

Williams stayed at the gospel mission for two years. Most folks just stay there 90 days, but it took that long for him to get a new birth certificate. The old one burned in a storage shed fire, along with many other of his possessions.

“Before you have a birth certificate you’re not really there,” he said.

Then they connected him with Miracle House.

“I’ve been happy here ever since,” he says on a video that was shown to the Marysville Methodist Church congregation recently.

He now receives Social Security benefits, so he can help with rent and expenses. Of the gospel mission, Whitfield said, “They advocate for the right people who will become independent.”

All three either have jobs, are working on an education or volunteer. Williams volunteers at the food bank.

Whitfield has helped Williams fill out forms for more permanent housing. He’s on a number of waiting lists.

Even though Williams is 65, he said he doesn’t want to retire.

“I’ve had my retirement already,” he said. Whitfield and Williams both challenge other churches to step up to help.

“There’s a group of people who fall through the cracks,” Whitfield said.

She said it is not that hard to put transition housing together. She said they were able to obtain all the furniture they needed in a week.

“Everyone has things they don’t need anymore,” she said.

The hard part is committing to making the house payments. Her church raised the money quickly. Her husband, Don, is planning an auction in October to raise more money for the Miracle House.

Williams said living there has changed his life.

“It brings a sense of pride being in a community,” he said. “Being homeless you lose that. I’m getting to know people and getting back in the game.”

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