Homeless man wants family for Thanksgiving

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Norfolk, Va. - A Thanksgiving adoption?

Neal Shytles doesn't have much to his name.

"This is bed 13,” he says, pointing out a bottom bunk at the Union Mission Ministries men’s shelter. “This is where I lived for a year."

Neal is homeless and has been staying at the shelter in Norfolk for a year and a half now.

Update: Viewers take action in a big way for man looking for family on Thanksgiving

What he lacks in possessions, Neal makes up for with heart.

"You know I’m grateful for even being here," he says.

It’s a heart that is hurting. He's surrounded by hundreds of people every day, but still Neal feels alone.

“I am lonely like 365 days a year but Christmas and Thanksgiving are two of the worst days, and I really miss having some kind of family atmosphere around me,” Neal says.

Last week, he reached out to NewsChannel 3. He posted a wanted ad on our Facebook page, asking for a family to take him in for Thanksgiving.

“It would mean the world to me if somebody took me in,” he says. “Just for that one day, for a couple hours.”

Neal grew up in Hampton Roads, graduating from Princess Anne High School in 1980, but says he has no family left nearby.

“It hurts me to be alone, no family or nobody around,” Neal says.

It's a position Neal says he never thought he would be in. After 15 years of driving a taxi, Neal lost his job and the bills piled up.

"Everything that I’d saved up I started dishing out to people that were taking me in and everything was gone,” he says. “When I was dropped off at the front door here, I was one of these people that never thought I would be here.”

He now rents a room at the shelter, using money he collects from Social Security.

Lining up for dinner, Neal is thankful for every meal and handout he gets.

But what he wants most is something money can't buy.

“It would mean so much, because you know like I said, I’m lonely and it`s just forming that relationship with somebody would be so important to me. It would mean so much and I would really cherish it.”


  • Princess Houghton

    I would like for him to have dinner with me and my family this year I am in NC but I am willing to drive and pick him up so he can enjoy his holidays with family.

  • Rachel

    This is so sad, I truly hope someone lets him in this year. No one deserves to be alone for the holidays. :( I would love to write a letter, seeing as live all the way on the other coast and could do nothing more. Is there anyway to get an address for him?

  • juanita randle

    Me n my family will love to have him over for thanks giving n also Christmas how can I get n touch with him I will pic him up n I’m sure my children will keep a smile on his face I really would love to have him over.

  • hitman21st

    My family and I would be willing to have him for Thanksgiving dinner. My parents are going out of town to be with my sister’s family, so we’ll have an open door at the table.

  • Breezy0902

    This story touched my heart. I felt so helpless being all the way in the Midwest but, after seeing the goodness of others who are willing to open their doors it just restored my faith.

    • Katie

      Even though he might have family, They obviously aren’t much of a family if they are willing to let him live in a shelter.. REAL family would take him in and try to help!

        • joanne

          Dee, I have a younger brother with all kinds of emotional problems who has burned lots of bridges including mine. Don’t feel bad about not taking him in. Some good semaritan out there is going to learn the hard way why he doesn’t have a place at your table. I’m with you!

        • Elizabeth Mitchem

          I was homeless with three kids do to someone in my family totaling my car. I was a divorced mother. Their father would not take them in. No one would help me. My brother sent me $100 for a hotel room. It lasted 2 days. I lost my job because I couldn’t get to work. I lost my home because I couldn’t pay for it. Child support wasn’t enough. Strangers helped me out. Catholic social services to be exact. But for the grave off God this hasn’t happened to any of you. Thanks to the people who helped me I got my job back as a nurse. A house that I owed a car and all three of my children grew up predictive adults. Two weight to college and one to trade school. So think before you condemn the homeless.

        • Sherry

          Of course only hearing his side of the story.Maybe they should interview some family.Alot of people play on strangers emotions.

  • Elizabeth Mitchem

    We soul like to adopt him for ever. Not just for the holiday. We have a big six bedroom house in Odessa Florida. Only three rooms occupied. Please contact us.

    • Chrissy

      Homeless Shelter
      5100 E Virginia Beach Blvd, Norfolk, VA 23502
      (757) 627-8686

      That is the shelter he lives at..

  • Amber

    I would like to extend not one but two invitations to this man to join me and my family we live in Newport news va and we would love for him to come to thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner we make it a big dinner and we share a bunch of laughs and we have a lot of love to give if he would like to join us we would be honored to have him at both holidays and to keep in touch with us because everyone deserves a family not just at holidays but every day! !!!

  • Drew

    Neil , if there’s anyway this can reach u and if there’s a chance in heck u find yourself in Colorado Springs u can come to my house and my family would love to have you for thanksgiving. We can even have it later in the year if that’s what it takes my man

  • heather hobson

    My heart breaks intl a million pieaces for this man!!! I do not live in virginia, I have no ride to go get him for a couple hours or to take him back. I live in kentucky. But if he had a way to my house and back I would take him in for thanksgiving in a heart beat. I truley I hope he finds a family to spe d thanks giving with. Praying

  • Courtney

    My family will not be here for Thanksgiving but he is welcome to spend Christmas with us. It will just be me, my husband, my son and a friend of ours and her husband and daughter for Christmas. We are a little lonely this Christmas as well. I live about 15 minutes from Norfolk.

  • NW Woman

    I, too, am alone for Thanksgiving for the third time. My husband of of 38 years died three year ago. That same year, my parents died, my sister died, my inlaws died and my lifelong friend. We have one son but he is in his early 20s, employed as a software developer and living across the country as a single. He’s working this week. I live in the country in the Northwest. I just don’t notice the holidays any longer. I truly ignore them, except for the sending of a card and gift to my son and cards to friends. Life goes on. It’s just a day and I have had many good one’s in the past. I did work at the shelter recently, creating T-Day baskets for those who needed them and that is joyful work. As I read his post, I felt sorry for him. I so hope someone can help him. I’ve learned that it’s expectations that create disappointment. I don’t expect…so I am not sad.

  • linda mason

    Thanks & praises for all the caring people. I pray Mr. Shytles and his host family had a great day. The address for the Union Mission Ministries is
    5100 E Virginia Beach Blvd
    Norfolk, VA 23502

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