I got an email on Monday from someone who wanted to thank me for a story that appeared on Good News Network in November. Such a note isn’t unusual for me, but I learned the other reason she was contacting us—and I was speechless.
“Call me!” was the only reply I could muster when she revealed she was the daughter of the homeless man in the story and that he had just died on Sunday.
“Oh, I’m doing fine. I’ve been drawing.”
I learned many things about Mr. Knoke in the 40-minute encounter—most impressive among them, that he was kind and generous, even while homeless and penniless.
A young woman approached at one point and gave him half of a small pizza, the leftovers from a dinner out at a local restaurant. Already touched by the one kindness, I watched as fellow homeless souls passing by approached Steve, asking him to share. Share he did, with glad heart and a smile for two different hungry wanderers. (The love-fest didn’t end there, as the woman, who must have been watching us from down the sidewalk, came back and delivered a newly ordered hot meal to reward Steve for his selflessness.)
I learned that Steve was a veteran, though recently his benefits had not been accessible due to his nomadic lifestyle. He was also quite the artist. I bought one of his vibrant abstract designs, not only to help out the guy, but because I admired this lucid man’s creative expression.
His daughter, April Knoke, told me the Santa Barbara police early this year had paid for a ticket so the 62-year-old could return to Minnesota to see his brother again.
April was reunited with her father in February after not seeing him for most of her life. She said he left town when she was 17 to “follow a voice that told him to go to Texas.” In a follow-up email she sent a remarkable photo of his military service days in the U.S. Air Force, and another from his late 20s.
“Without your article,” April said, “we wouldn’t have had this glimpse of who he was for the last 17 years.”
“Also we found a poem he wrote at least 30 years ago (Mind Blown).” It was entitled, ‘The Unexpected Dream’, and is pictured below.
April and her sister have set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise $2,000 to give their father an honorable funeral. Let’s show them there is a worldwide community of strangers who are not only fans of Good News but fans of Steven E. Knoke and his brand of gentle kindness.
So far, they’ve raised just $290, so donate, if you can, to say farewell to Steve: “A kind homeless man, an artist, a poet, a brother, a son and a friend.”
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