Man Who Asks for a Smile Reunited with Family

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You may recognize the man standing second from the left in this photo. His name is Jacob. He is the guy with the homemade “SMILE” sign with a cut-out for his smiling face. He frequents the area around Acacia Park downtown.


For the last four years, Jacob's family hadn't seen that smile. They didn't know where he was. Trying not to assume the worst, they failthfully googled his name day after day with no results. That changed when Gazette reporter Conrad Swanson quoted Jacob in his May 30, 2018 article about the City's HelpCOS Campaign.

Filled with cautious hope, Jacob's mom called Conrad at the Gazette. She asked if he could help her contact her son. Conrad enlisted the help of the City's Homelessness Prevention and Response Coordinator, Andrew Phelps. Andrew recognized the name and found Jacob staying at the Springs Rescue Mission.

Over the next several months Jacob's family sent care packages with warm, clean clothes, hand-warmers, new gloves, snacks.  Andrew delivered them to Jacob. Then Jacob and his parents started talking on the phone each week.

This week Jacob's parents came to see him. They met at Poor Richard's with Council President and proprietor Richard Skorman. There were smiles, hugs, and lots of catching up.  Andrew brought information to help connect Jacob to housing programs, disability benefits, and resources in the City’s Continuum of Care.

Andrew says he's hopeful for Jacob. “Jacob is a very resilient person and I am optimistic that we can get him connected to available resources in our community. What we couldn’t provide him with were family connections. Now he has that again. I’m very optimistic that with some assistance navigating the system, we can get him on a path to housing and self-sufficiency."

His family is hopeful too.

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