Strangers drive for hours to help St. Louis homeless woman after plea goes viral

News
This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — A homeless woman’s description of life over the past year on the streets of St. Louis with her 1-year-old son is going viral. Now, she and her baby are getting help from strangers who came from hundreds of miles away to help.

Tears ran down Melena Johnson’s face when she spoke with FOX 2’s Elliott Davis in a video posted to Facebook on November 2, 2018. Thousands of people reacted to the story. So far it has reached over 2.5 million people.

Johnson says that she was staying in vacant buildings. Authorities have boarded up the home she was staying at during the warmer months. Now, she is sleeping on the sidewalk.

The Biddle House is no longer letting homeless people stay there during the day. The days can get very cold during the winter in St. Louis. Services can be hard to setup if you don’t have the proper credentials or access to a phone and internet.

“I could give up, man. I’ve been running for a long time. There ain’t nowhere to go. They’re not helping me. St. Patrick’s, you have to call a hotline to get a place to stay out of the cold. Why do they need your identity, social security card or birth certificate to stay warm?” said Melena Johnson.

Johnson says she has been homeless for about a year. She faces fines for sleeping outside.

“There is nowhere to go. I have a warrant for sleeping on the sidewalk. I didn’t have anywhere else to go but the sidewalk. He said that ‘if you come back, I’ll write you up.’ I went back to the heat and sat there to get warm. He wrote me a ticket. I said that before I go to jail for sleeping on the sidewalk, the jail system won’t get a dime from me. You’ll have to catch me first before I pay you for sleeping on the sidewalk,” said Melena Johnson.

Davis asks Johnson how people can reach her, how they can help. She says that you can find her on the streets of downtown St. Louis.

Elliott Davis caught up with Melena Johnson and her young son Wednesday. She says that some kind person came from an hour and a half away to pay for a week-long stay at a downtown hotel after her plea went viral on Facebook. The man bought them groceries, clothes, and other necessities. She says she met others from Chicago, Philadelphia and other cities that knew her story and came to help them.

“I never thought that people on this earth loved me in these 40-something years. It turns out to be something different. I don’t think I should think like that anymore when there is someone out there caring for me, and they don’t even know me,” said Melena Johnson.

Johnson’s stay indoors only lasts a week.  But, it may give her and her son some time to get the help they need.

This is the post that went viral in November:

FOX 2 Newsletters

Sign up for a newsletter from FOX 2 to get updates about news and weather. We offer daily headlines, breaking news, severe weather, and forecast emails.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

Popular

Latest News

More News