A Gales Ferry man will be out of the cold this winter thanks to the help of a U.S. Navy chief petty officer and local business owner.
For the last year and a half, Brad Kelsey has been living out of his car, that is now leaking air, after a hernia put him out of work. In the winter, he and his two dogs curl up tightly in the back seat hoping not freeze.
"It’s pretty bad when you gotta be in this car. I wake up and I feel like I have daggers sticking in my kneecap," Kelsey said.
Business after business wouldn’t let Kelsey park on site. That's when, Miki Leighton, a supervisor with the Ledyard Food Pantry, facilitated a post on the Ledyard Community Forum Facebook page asking if someone knew of a place where Kelsey could safely park his car.
Chief Petty Officer Mike Stewart saw that post and wanted to take the request one step further by offering up his camper to Kelsey and his dogs for the winter.
"As far as I’m concerned, if you have it, why not share it?" Stewart said.
Stewart said he was never without a home, but knows what it’s like to grow up without means.
"Moved in with my grandparents when I was a sophomore in high school just because my family was taking care of all of us," Stewart said.
Stewart, a Naval Undersea Medical Institute (NUMI) instructor, credited the Navy for its generosity.
He said his multiple deployments overseas to underprivileged countries also made him realize not to take anything for granted.
Another neighbor, Rich Hines, owner of H&H Landscaping in Ledyard, also stepped in with a generator to give Kelsey electricity for heat. Hines said he now speaks to Kelsey multiple times a week.
"We hung out, played some cards, spent the night and then basically established a relationship," Hines said.
Kelsey said because of the original Facebook post, there has been an outpouring of support of people giving him sleeping bags and other supplies.
"When I didn’t get help from where I figured I would get help, they were standing up and giving me help," Kelsey said.
For the men who helped Kelsey, it’s just them doing the right thing.
"Because if I was in issues, I’d hope somebody would help me," Hines said.