Former North Camp Tenants ‘On the Right Side of the Tracks’

Posted at 8:52 PM, Jun 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-30 20:52:27-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (June 30, 2014) – They lived in a homeless camp for more than four years, but when they found out North Camp along the railroad tracks  in Walker was being closed, they were forced to make  a change.

Dan and Gary Owczarzak along with dozens of others that called North Camp home had to find a new place to stay.

“I ended up coming out of prison with one penny and my house was locked up, couldn`t get anything out of there and that`s how we ended up in north camp,” Dan said.

It was only supposed to be temporary, somewhere for the brothers to stay until they got back on their feet.

“Being on parole, nobody wanted to hire me, so it wasn`t easy to get a job,” Dan said.

The two built a makeshift cabin out of scrap wood along the railroad tracks.

“Well then when the railroad came in and said, well, we`re gonna run everyone over, and you`ve got three weeks, everybody`s scrambling like what are we going to do? Where are we going to go?” he said.

So they reached out for help fromCommunity Rebuildersand the Salvation Army.  The organizations helped the brothers land a new apartment.

“We`ve been trying to do it on our own for a while,” Dan said.

He says with a little help and the right people, anyone can turn their life around.  He said he’s stayed clean and said his prayers, and life just keeps getting better.

“First day I came up here I cried,” Dan said of his new apartment.

Both he and Gary say they were overwhelmed just by having running water. Dan says he took three showers the first day.

Now, they’re looking for a job, and say they have an abundance of handyman skills including welding and dry wall.  All of this is part of  an effort to turn their lives completely around, for good this time.

“When you`re living in the woods like that, you kinda feel ashamed of yourself a little bit, and it`s hard to get back out with people,” Dan said. “But now that we`re out here back in the real society again, it`s time to be a stand-up guy again and do the right things.  God`s been blessing us and I`m not gonna let him down anymore.”

If you’d like to help give the brothers a job or donate to the organizations that helped them, contact Community Rebuildersat (616) 458- 5102.