A former firefighter who lived out of his car after developing PTSD and alcoholism after a traumatic shift, was gifted a new car and a job after asking his local Michigan community for help over Facebook.
JD Edgington was looking for a place to shower and launder his clothes when he decided to post to the Grand Haven Informed community Facebook group, asking for suggestions.
“I just posted on there asking for laundry and a shower,” he told KVUE. “And within 24 hours, I had a job and a vehicle.”
Edgington moved to Michigan from Iowa, where he took up a job as a firefighter. He said a traumatic call two years ago “messed him up” and left him unable to continue working.
“I was a firefighter living my dream job with the world at my feet,” he wrote in a Facebook post on February 12. “One night is all it took to spin out of control.”
Edgington referred to an incident where he was unable to save a 9-year-old boy who died in an accident on Interstate 80.
“Can’t seem to get the mom’s screams to go away,” he said in another post. “I know it’s not my fault and we did good that night but I just wish it’d stop.”
The young man said he turned in his badge but his life soon began to fall apart.
“I couldn’t really get a grip on it and I turned to alcohol after that,” he said. “And I drank pretty heavily for about a year and a half. I had 17 trips to the ER for alcohol poisoning … I just kept thinking someday I’d get out of it.”
In another Facebook post from February this year, Edgington wrote: “I’m terrified to go to sleep. I have to work nights because sleeping at night is a guaranteed nightmare. I’m so tired of it.”
Edgington was living out of his car in Grand Haven when he posted a question to a local community Facebook group.
“Hope this is OK to ask,” Edgington wrote. “Are there any showers open to the public in Grand Haven (free) and what’s the cheapest laundromat in the area?”
Expecting to receive just a few pointers, Edgington was instead flooded with offers and comments of support from residents.
Within days, a local woman replied offering the struggling ex-firefighter a job at her family’s construction company.
“We are incredibly grateful to be able to offer JD this opportunity and a fresh start at a new life,” Kimberly Niblick said. “His story has been incredible to watch. So many wonderful people have stepped forward in Grand Haven and offered him a second chance.”
“I don’t even know where to start. These people they just offered me a job and a place to stay – everything, the works,” Edgington said in a TikTok video posted on Thursday, March 11. “These people just came out of the blue … After two years I get a break. I haven’t been this happy in a long time.”
Andrew Koss also stepped in after realizing Edgington’s car, which he was still living in, was in a state of disrepair and was not reliable enough to get to work or travel to various sites.
Koss, a managing partner at Accurate Automotive, gave Edgington the keys to a new car from his dealership on Friday.
“Here’s a guy, very clearly down on his luck, but he’s not online looking for handouts,” said Koss. “It was a breath of fresh air to scroll through and see the community coming together to help this guy. I’m a firm believer in you get what you put into the universe … And clearly, he had some good karma coming his way.”
Edgington said he was “overwhelmed” by the support of the community. “I didn’t expect the people of Grand Haven to come together like that,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of something like that. I don’t even know what to say.”
“I don’t know how to say it enough, but you guys saved my life. I really thought that was it. These people, they didn’t even know me, and all this they’re doing for me, I don’t know how to say thankful enough. They’re like angels to me.”
Edgington now hopes to get a place of his own and has set up a GoFundMe page in a bid to raise enough money to rent an apartment or trailer.
“I’m trying to at least get a place of my own. It’s been a year now since I’ve had my own place,” the page reads. “I know it’ll cost a bit to get a place and to furnish it and get the living necessities but if I could at least have my own place I can figure out the rest.”