Homeless man reunited with family, gets second chance at life

Homeless man reunited with family, gets second chance at life

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Tommie Miller has been homeless in Chicago for 18 years, and for 16 of those years, he lived under a bridge.

However, after two years of encouragement from Renaissance Social Services, he finally decided to ditch the streets and let RSSI help him find an apartment. That leap of faith by Miller would not only lead him into a permanent home, but also lead him to a family he never knew he had.

FOX 32 News' cameras were rolling as Miller embraced his daughter and met his grandchildren for the first time.

The emotional moment at the Renaissance Social Services Office would have never happened if Miller hadn't decided to finally seek help after almost two decades on the streets of Chicago. For two years, RSSI encouraged him to accept it's help and get off the streets.

The cold Chicago winter this year finally convinced him to make a change.

"I said the lord is good…good things come to those who wait. I never gave up," Miller said.

His daughter, Dorothy, also never gave up. Searching for her dad year after year, even knowing there was a good chance he was dead.

"I have walked past many homeless men, and not knowing if it was him or not. It was hard, but I kept looking," Dorothy said.

That long search ended thanks to the power of television. Her Aunt happened to recognize Miller on a local TV news story about homelessness. She called Dorothy with news that her Dad was alive, and she couldn't believe it.

"I was overwhelmed, but I was happy. I needed that," Dorothy added.

Dorothy immediately called RSSI.

After years of living under a bridge on the Chicago streets, Miller was reunited with his family and introduced to the grandchildren he had never met. Miller admits he misses some of his friends from the street, but he doesn't miss the lifestyle.

When he can, he will offer advice to others who call the streets home.

"I tell them point blank. It's cool what you are doing, but seek some help," Miller said.

Case workers never gave up on Miller, and he is forever grateful. Not only did it save his life, it enriched the lives of others -- like Dorothy's and his grandchildren.

"It's like a dream come true…Bigger than hitting the lottery. I got my Dad back in my life," Dorothy said.

Dorothy said she's not mad at her Dad for leaving all those years ago. She said life is too short to be angry, and she's ready to move on with her life -- with her Dad.

To date, RSSI has provided housing and supportive services to 120 people who were previously homeless. There are an estimated 1200 homeless, with no shelter, living on the streets of Chicago.

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