Newton man helping others get out of homelessness

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Lyle Gulick had a rough half a decade or so in his early 50s. A time in his life that he spent in the grips of depression and alcoholism — and homelessness. He's cleaned up and found a home in Newton. Now he's helping others get what they need to move from homeless to a home of their own.

Lyle Gulick had a rough half a decade or so in his early 50s. A time in his life that he spent in the grips of depression and alcoholism — and homelessness.

"I was giving up on life in general," Gulick said. "... I lived, myself, for years wishing I did not wake up the next day because of the situation I was in."

He had to change his mindset, and deal with his addictions, to dig his way out of homelessness.

"I had to have a change of mind," Gulick said. "I had to, one day, finally change my mind. It was either roll over and die or choose to live. I chose to live."

He tapped into the help available from New Hope Shelter, and others, to get off the street and into a home of his own.

And while those six years formed who he has become at the age 58, he is changing the definition of who he is. 

Who he is is a guy who wants your old couch — a resourceful guy that wants to help others.

About a month ago he started posting to Facebook groups seeking help for the homeless. He wants to collect items those moving out of shelters or off the streets into a home need.

Things like beds, kitchen furniture, towels or anything that is needed to make a home.

"It's everything," Gulick said. "You are staring over. When you are living out of a backpack for as many years as you  do ... you have some basic essentials but you end up in an apartment you are starting out from scratch."

He should know. Guilick spent six years living on the streets, mostly in Wichita. 

"When I was homeless in Wichita I spent many, many days waiting in lines in food banks, Gulick said. "It is not an easily life. When you are homeless, it is a lot of hard work. You wake up in the morning wondering what you are going to eat that day and where you will end up that day. Are you going to get mugged that day? Where are you going to sleep the next night? You have to plan to keep yourself alive. ... there are people out to get you, because they don't have anything either.

In 2017 He left Wichita, heading to a previous hometown as he sought opportunities for a better life.

He tried to plug into rehab programs, and found a job. But days after he found employment tragedy struck.

"I made an effort to go to Colorado Springs and reestablish some roots out there in my home area in 2017. I lived homeless there for several months," Guilick said. "Just as I found a job, I was struck by a vehicle and it left me disabled. That is where I am at now, I live on disability."

As he went through alcohol rehab, he tried several agencies before landing at Mirror, Inc., of Newton. He had lived in Newton previously — in the 1990s. During that time he worked for a short time in the press and mail room of The Newton Kansan. A return to Newton was where he was being led.

When he returned to Newton, he went to New Hope Shelter and "gave them a shot." It was a place he said he liked when he stayed there previously. His application for federal disability was approved, and that provided some income.

"When I did leave New Hope, I was blessed with several donations of my own," Gulick said. "A bed and some other things to help me out. I knew when I was homeless that I would eventually get out of that. I knew I would find a way to eventually help give back. I did not know how that was going to work out."

How that has worked out is posting to social media. He finds free furniture, collects it and gives it to those who might need it. Thus far he has helped three families, and started helping stock a storage unit rented by New Hope Shelter for others.

"I have the time, I have the vehicle," Gulick said. "I have been doing that for about two months."

He's been invited to become one of the administrators of the Facebook site "Harvey County Free Site," where people post things they want to give away.

"It is my goal to help fill [the storage unit] up so that when people do need to move out and get a fresh start, they have things to do that with," Gulick said. "I want to help others ease the pain of how difficult it is go from being homeless to having a normal life."

To donate to his efforts, find him on Facebook or call 316-364-9584 or email lylegulick@yahool.com.