A ukulele-playing 97-year-old Merchant Marine veteran found himself down on his luck after he was kicked out of a California senior living facility and ended up in a homeless shelter.
But James Farrell is strumming a happy tune after some generous strangers rushed to his aid when they read about his plight in a local newspaper.
Farrell showed up at a homeless shelter in Napa last Wednesday with local senior advocate Carol Eldridge. On Friday he moved into digs at Piner’s Nursing Home. One stranger is covering his rent until the end of the month. Another is donating $1,000 for moving expenses.
“It’s been a pretty remarkable day,” Eldridge told the Napa Valley Register Saturday. “I woke up this morning thinking I’d be visiting him at the shelter, but the generous people of Napa have stepped forward, and he’s already in his new place.”
The Register said Farrell was just as amazed. “It’s an astonishing revelation,” he said. “I don’t know from whom this money came, but from the bottom of my heart, I feel a great gratitude. I would love to meet this person and thank them with a handshake.”
The anonymous benefactors came forward after the newspaper ran a story about Farrell online Thursday and in print Friday. In the article, Farrell said he was forced to leave the Redwood Retirement Residence in early July after he got an eviction notice and a $1,500 professional cleaning bill for his unit.
The nonagenarian stayed a few nights at a Motel 6 and a few nights at the Yountville Veterans home. Down to his last $100, Farrell ended up at the South Napa Shelter for the Homeless. He was a Merchant Marine seaman during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Eldridge helped Farrell secure a spot at Piner’s. But Farrell couldn’t afford to start living there until Aug. 1. That's when he gets his next Social Security check and veteran’s pension.