At 17, Mike ran away to join the Army. After enduring years of abuse from his mother, Mike felt liberated, living a “normal” life for the first time, able to make choices for himself and try things without the fear of humiliation. What could easily have been the story of a troubled childhood leading to drugs or a life of crime instead became the story of a man bent on showing the world the love he’d never received. “The one thing I never let my childhood do is break me,” Mike explains, preferring making people laugh to tearing them down. A proud father and grandfather, Mike is a testament to survivors everywhere. Listen to his interview below.
Why Beyond Spare Change?
First, because we believe that stories are the currency of human connection. The sharing of experiences can break down boundaries, forge new paths, and force us to see each other as individuals with complex and varied histories instead of “types” dictated by circumstance.
Second, because anyone who has heard the clink of quarters against pennies, be it in a plastic cup or the bottom of a purse, knows that one has to move beyond spare change to impact chronic homelessness.
Lastly, the show is called Beyond Spare Change out of respect for the work the men and women who have passed through Liberty House have done on themselves and their lives. It’s no mean feat to find work after unemployment and homelessness. It’s no mean feat to struggle with addiction and maintain one’s sobriety. Above all, Beyond Spare Change is dedicated to our hardworking residents.
Lyndsay Elitharp is a graduate of Bard College. She was raised on a duck farm on rural Long Island. She is also the producer and host of Beyond Spare Change: a podcast focused on the lives of residents and staff of Liberty House in Manchester, a place for homeless veterans in transition to take a breath and regain their footing.