Once homeless, KC man who argued firefighters doused his camp turns his life around

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A homeless man, who made headlines earlier this year over claims that firefighters doused his camp with water on one of the coldest nights of the year, has found a new beginning.

Phil Bucalo still disagrees with the findings of an investigation that revealed Kansas City firefighters did not violate protocol during the January incident, but it was a turning point for him.

“It’s tough to get your spirits up [but] I had a lot of help,” the 72-year-old said.

A lot of people took interest in Bucalo’s story including K.K., the founder of Care Beyond the Boulevard – a nonprofit organization that provides health care to those living in poverty.

Phil Bucalo

“People just generously donated their own cash to put him in a hotel, and I was able to get him in the temporary housing that he is in today,” K.K. said.

“It came from the heart,” Bucalo added. “These people really believe in what they do, and they take a personal interest in everybody and their situation.”

Bucalo is staying at the Shalom House in KCK where he gets hot meals, a clean shower and most importantly – a chance to save the money he draws from Social Security.

“It gives me a chance to get back on my feet instead of wondering where your next meal is coming from,” Bucalo said.

Bucalo, who served two tours during the Vietnam War, spends once a week working with K.K., volunteering his time to help those who aren’t as fortunate.

“He really has a positive attitude about helping other people, and I can see that he’s feeling better about himself and his situation,” K.K. said.

Bucalo not only looks like a new man, he also feels like one and said he doesn’t take this new opportunity lightly.

“There is no reason somebody can’t lift themselves up by the boot strings and make something out of themselves,” Bucalo said.

Bucalo said he’s grateful to be finally be living again and not just surviving.

“I would have been oblivious to that had it not been for the people who helped me out,” Bucalo said.

Bucalo is currently looking at apartments and believes he’ll have enough in his savings to be on his own in two months.

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