If Michael ever won the lottery, he would spend every penny on food, beds, and warm clothing for men experiencing homelessness in London. “Just to make sure they were safe and had somewhere to go,” says his daughter, Ali. “He just had an incredible heart. So, when he would see or hear of a need, he would fill it”.
Sadly, Michael passed away last spring. After several years of visiting Men’s Mission every Tuesday with his wife and daughter, his absence is deeply felt.
Michael’s Tuesday visits always took precedence in his calendar. “There would be appointments that were scheduled on a Tuesday and he would say, ‘No, can’t do it then. I have to go see the boys at the Mission,’” Ali chuckles as she recalls. “It would always be more important than his heart appointments”.
At Men’s Mission, Michael would hand out treasured items such as socks, coats, gloves, scarves, juice boxes, and treats. “Anything that would give them comfort,” explains Ali. “We’ve stood at tables in the middle of the winter handing out coats to people and you would think we had given them a thousand dollars. They’d try on the coats and say, ‘Oh, this is great!’ I’ll never forget those times”.
When Michael married his wife, Ann, he was welcomed by a family who nurtured his kind spirit. “It was lovely for him to be taken into that fold of ‘Wow, I am so loved and appreciated. They cook for you and make sure you’re happy and healthy’. I think that’s where it started—with my mom’s family,” says Ali as she reflects on her dad’s generosity.
Michael harnessed those feelings of love and support, and shared it with his neighbours at Men’s Mission who he lovingly referred to as “the boys”. “On a cold night, he would say, ‘I hope the boys are warm enough down at the Mission’”.
Michael always encouraged his children to consider the wellbeing of others as well. “Look outside the box. That was another one of his expressions. Look outside your four walls to see if your neighbour is okay or if there is someone on the street who is lonely,” remembers Ali.
Ali reveres her dad’s counsel. A few years ago, she made up Christmas gifts for “the boys”. In the gifts, she placed cards that read, “You are very special and God loves you”. “Two years later, one of the guys actually pulled the card out of his pocket and said, ‘Do you remember making up some Christmas bags?’ I said, ‘Yes,’” Ali recalls. “He said, ‘I kept this’. It was just the most beautiful thing. I wondered how many times he took that out of his pocket to realize that God loves him and he’s special”.
While “the boys” at Men’s Mission, along with staff and volunteers, will miss Michael’s Tuesday visits, his love and kindness will continue to be felt. “Although his life has ended, the goodness will continue,” Ali promises. “It will continue through his grandchildren and great-grandchildren because their parents are teaching them what dad taught us: to give to people before you give to yourself”.
Looking back at his life, Michael felt as we all hope to feel: happy and grateful. “Dad said to me, ‘I had a wonderful life and I’ve been blessed. I have a wonderful wife, children, and grandchildren. I have no regrets, Alison, not one’”.
Michael will continue to be greatly missed and admired by all who knew him. As he often said to those he parted with, “God bless”.
Written by Amy Bumbacco, Communications & PR Coordinator