On a recent trip to the Whole Foods in Scottsdale, Arizona, Stephanie and Al Blackbird encountered a homeless man who they say didn’t look good and was just kind of wandering around. The couple helped get some food for him and talked to him, getting to know Alan Vandevandera little bit before parting ways with him.
But the Blackbirds say they couldn’t get the frail man out of their heads, so the next morning, they went back out to find him to see if they could help him. They took Alan to a hospital, where he was treated for severe malnourishment and they also learned more of his history. He had served in Vietnam, was awarded a Purple Heart, and had been missing for 40 years. Alan’s family back in Indiana had no idea he was still alive.
The Blackbirds have been helping Alan for the last few weeks, getting him to the hospital, then a hotel, and now the VA. And they helped him reconnect with his sister, Julie, who last spoke to her brother in the 80’s. She hopes to fly out soon to see her brother for the first time in four decades, so they can reunite face-to-face. And this is all thanks to the kindness of strangers.
A GoFundMe has also been set up to help Alan with his journey.