A home for the holidays
After living in motel room for 14 months, family settles into apartment
ALBION – For 14 months, Kevin Madden and Stacie McKay lived in Room 10 at Dollinger’s Motel in Albion. They were joined by their three children, who are now ages 4 to 7.
They have been homeless for much of the past five years, staying with friends and family when they weren’t in the motel.
That changed in early October when they moved into an apartment on Ingersoll Street in Albion. They have painted the walls, made repairs and cleaned the place.
For them, it’s home, a welcome relief from five turbulent years.
“You have no choice but to get through it,” McKay said. “Your instincts take over.”
She and Madden both credit God for the turnaround, and help from new friends.
Jack Burris is one of those friends. He was out for a jog in October 2012 with the “Run for God” group the Albion Free Methodist Church. They ran along the Erie Canal Towpath and Burris saw Madden fishing in Sandy Creek, just west of the Brown Street bridge.
Madden was with the three kids, including the youngest, then age 2, in a baby carrier on his back. Burris thought it was a picturesque scene, a young father and the children by the creek, just as the leaves were changing color.
When the runners finished their jog, they stopped at the church at the corner of East State and Platt streets. Burris was locking up the church when Madden happened to walk by with the three kids. Burris had heard they were staying in a motel room.
Later that day, Burris knocked on the door of Room 10 at Dollinger’s, and offered to take Madden and family for dinner at Kentucky Fried Chicken. They went and talked. Burris noticed Madden was heavily tattooed with the F-word one his knuckles.
But Burris saw Madden’s close attention to the children, and was impressed with his intelligence and thoughtfulness. Burris invited Madden and his family to the Free Methodist Church. He said the church had many children’s programs with a nonjudgmental congregation.
About a month later, Madden, McKay and the three kids attended their first service at the church. Madden and McKay say they were reluctant to go at first.
“We didn’t think it was for us,” Madden said.
But they found a welcoming group and a laid-back atmosphere with a band that plays worship music and doughnuts and coffee served after the service. Madden and McKay like the music so much they sing the songs around their apartment, including at night to the kids at bedtime.
They have been regulars at church each Sunday, with McKay joining a women’s Bible study on Tuesdays and Madden attending a Thursday night men’s study group. The kids are in the Sunday school program and all have been baptized.
Madden and McKay admit they used to be addicts who also heavily drank. Those days are over, by the grace of God, they say. They also have quit smoking.
McKay works at the new Dunkin’ Donuts in Albion. Their lifestyle changes and the job have given them enough money to pay the rent for their apartment, to buy furniture, and cover all of their bills and even give to the church.
“Once we started living right we had all of this extra money,” Madden said. “We’ve been able to get back on our feet. I’m glad that we’re settled.”
Burris praises Madden and McKay – and God – for the turnaround.
“I tell them they should be proud of what they’ve accomplished,” Burris said.
He said he felt “a still small voice” when he saw Madden fishing and then walking by the church more than two years ago. Burris believes he was being prompted by God to reach out to Madden and his family.
Madden said Burris has become a close friend and a steadying influence. He is grateful Burris knocked on the motel room door, taking a chance on a stranger.
Madden said there are others in the community without a permanent address, who fight addictions and may be depressed.
“There’s a lot of people who need help, who you can pass by on the street and who can’t pay a bill,” Madden said. “You can go anywhere in America and find people who are stressed out. God is the one who gives and takes away. You have to be humble and give God all of the credit.”
McKay and Madden started dating on Aug. 17, 2009 – they both remember the exact date. They met in Hamlin, where Madden’s mother has friends. Madden was visiting there when he met McKay. She was living in Spencerport at the time, and visiting her parents who lived in Hamlin.
Madden saw McKay and commented to a someone that she was “a real pretty girl.”
They talked by phone a few times before they started dating. As a family they enjoy camping, fishing and hiking.
Madden and McKay admit they’ve made many mistakes, but they have fought through the adversity.
“We were together yesterday, and we are together today,” McKay said. “We will be together tomorrow. That’s the main thing.”
McKay counts her blessings, for a stranger’s kindness and God’s provision.
“If you do even the smallest thing you could change someone’s life,” she said.