this is a cool story!
How awesome is this guy!
He should run for office.
Tempe homeless man returns $3,300 in cash to ASU student
by Derek Quizon – Nov. 17, 2010 11:24 AM
The Arizona Republic
When Dave Talley, a Tempe homeless man, found a backpack at the light rail station near Rural Road and University Drive earlier this month, his first thought was to look through the bag for the owner’s identification or contact information. Instead, he found an envelope containing about $3,300 in cash.
The temptation to keep the money for himself was almost overwhelming, he said. Then, his conscience kicked in.
“The reality set in that it wasn’t my money and it needed to be turned over,” he said.
There are countless things a man like Talley could have done with the money. A recovering drug addict, Talley lives in a system of rotating shelters run by an advocacy group called the Tempe Community Action Agency. He’s now trying to get back on his feet, juggling volunteer work at the agency with part-time work at a local small business.
That weekend, his bicycle – his only mode of transportation – needed to be fixed. He was spending most of his meager paycheck to have it fixed, and he started fantasizing about using the money toward bike repairs, pocketing most of the money and keeping his paycheck.
“I could’ve done a lot of things with the money,” he later said, “but none of them would’ve been right.”
Talley called TCAA employee Sam Sumner, who told him to bring it to the agency’s offices – they’d get in contact with the police and look through the bag for clues about its owner.
The bag contained no wallet or identification, leading Sumner to think they had hit a dead end. Later that week, Sumner found a small flash drive with the owner’s files on it. He put it into his computer and found the resume of ASU student Bryan Belanger.
“It’s humbling and it puts things into perspective,” Belanger said of Talley’s decision. “From his point of view, he could’ve taken care of himself by paying for rent or something with that money.”
It was a stroke of luck for Belanger, one that came at just the right time. He wrecked his car in an accident last month and needed money for a new one. He took out the money after finding a few possible listings on Craigslist.
Luckily, the office where he works part time is in Mesa, close to the light rail line. On the morning he lost the money, he was waiting for the train to arrive. He set his bag down on an adjacent seat. It was early, the station was deserted and Belanger took out his phone to fight off boredom.
“I had my bike with me and I was using my phone, so my hands were full,” he said. “I didn’t even see (the bag) when I got up.”
Belanger reported the missing bag to the police, but the outlook for finding it wasn’t promising. He was told surveillance footage showed two people taking the bag from the station, but the footage wasn’t really clear enough to provide any leads.
A few days later, he got the call from Sumner. When he went to TCAA to pick it up, he found, as he said, “not a dollar was missing.”
Sumner said Talley turned his life around after getting off drugs. He recalls seeing Talley come in to the system about five years ago. Dave Talley the addict, he said, never would have returned the money.
Since then, Talley has gotten clean, tried to put his life back together and is even taking a leadership role among the residents through his volunteer work as a monitor. Talley works as Sumner’s eyes and ears, making sure people in the program are staying off drugs and keeping order at the shelter.
His decision to return the money is a sign of how much he’s changed, Sumner said.
“He’s been able to go out working, and he’s starting to re-connect with society,” Sumner said. “He’s trying to make better life decisions.”