A rough sleeper was brought to tears when he left found that strangers had raised as much as $ 17,000 (£ 12,400) to put a roof over his head.
Mike, 46, who had been homeless for much of his life, met 24-year-old vlogger Phillip Vu in New Haven, CT, when Mike offered to clean his car windows.
After initially declining, Phillip invited Mike into his car for a chat and the pair struck an unlikely friendship.
Phillip recorded their car chats to share with his friends on social media.
Strangers fell in love with Mike’s straightforward demeanor and asked Phillip if they could donate money to help him.
Within days, strangers donated thousands of dollars, and at their next meal meeting, Phillip handed over the money he could withdraw.
He then revealed the total of the online fundraiser – capturing Mike’s astonished and heartwarming response.
Phillip from Newport Beach, California, who is currently on a road trip and lives in his car himself, said, “That was probably one of the best experiences of my life.
‘When I went on a trip eight months ago when I left home to live my car and make videos, years into the future it was my dream to give someone who deserves a lump sum and change their life.
‘I never imagined that I would have achieved that eight months later.
Mike, 46, who had been homeless for much of his life, was shocked and brought tears to tears when Phillip Vu revealed viewers raised $ 17,000 to help him start a new life
The pair met in New Haven, CT, when Mike offered to clean Phillip’s car windows. After initially declining, Phillip invited Mike into his car for a chat and the pair struck an unlikely friendship
“We can solve homeless people in the US because a life changed by just $ 17,000 – we can make a difference in the lives of these people.”
Phillip himself had lived without a car for the past eight months after quitting his job at the bank to travel across the country.
It was parked in New Haven, Connecticut, USA, and stopped on a drive to New York when Mike offered to clean his windows on January 31.
It was -10 ° C and Phillip initially declined his request, but after seeing him waiting alone for 30 minutes, went to buy him a sandwich.
He then invited Mike to dinner in his car and asked if he could film the conversation for one of his Daily Vlogs.
Then he discovered they had more in common than they initially thought.
Phillip said, “I thought we were two sides of another coin.
Phillip, from Newport Beach, California, who is currently on a road trip and lives in his car himself, said, ‘That was probably one of the best experiences of my life’
‘We both came from struggling backgrounds and at one point I decided to reconnect with my family and he didn’t – we saw similarities to that split.
‘I was like living my dreams, and he told me it was his dream to travel one day.
“He takes care of his life and tries to support his girlfriend and I live in my car for my spare time.”
Mike told Phillip that his father died when he was young and that he had lost touch with his family.
In their TikTok videos, he admitted to being in prison a number of times.
But after his mother died last year, he decided he wanted to make “fair money” and offered to pump gasoline and clean windows.
Phillip confided that his father died when he was young and that he had just decided to live out of his car and drive around after quitting his graduate job as a bank analyst.
Phillip said, “We both made a loss and we just connected to that.
“I was talking about family, where we’re from and how we both got into that situation.”
Phillip posted heart-to-heart clips on his TikTok and YouTube accounts a few days later, and overnight the videos went viral, with nearly two and a half million views.
The vlogger said, ‘I never thought any of these videos would gain this much traction
‘I didn’t think it would be more than helping him, having a conversation, getting to know him.
‘I just wanted to capture a video of me and Mike hanging out and sharing an experience.’
His fans started asking how they could donate and help Mike, so Phillip set up a GoFundMe on February 2.
Within two days, they had made $ 10,000, breaking the original $ 1,000 goal.
On Feb. 12, Chinese New Year, Phillip handed Mike a red envelope containing $ 1,000 in cash – the maximum he could get in the short term – and burst into tears.
Mike said to Phillip, “I never thought this would happen, I only ask God for one thing, life, and he poured you into me.”
Phillip pulled out his phone to show Mike the GoFundMe, which had $ 14,000 on it at the time – enough for Mike to get a roof over his head for an entire year.
At that point in the video, Mike shouted, “What are you doing to me?”
Phillip said, “To be honest, I thought I was going to cry. I tried to keep everything together. ‘
Phillip has engaged financial advisers to help Mike use the money responsibly and get his life back on track.
Mike has bought clothes, food and a phone so the two can keep in touch.
Phillip said, “To be honest, I never foresaw any of this.
‘I think the reason they were so popular is that it was so normal, I spent so much time on the street that it was something very normal to me, it never occurred to me that that’s not the way most people deal with homeless people.
‘I realize when you tag things like’ homelessness’ you dehumanize them, that they are not who they are, they are just a homeless person.
“He’s such a sweet, hard-working person and I want to humanize him.”
Mike is currently getting his Social Security number and birth certificate and has applied for low-income housing.