Homeless man reacts to panhandling criticism by Facebook group

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LANSING, Mich. - Jesse Dyer has become the face of panhandling along the lakeshore.

There are pictures of Dyer, 20, all over social media, as he worked major intersections between Holland and South Haven.

He was even caught on video as he was confronted by supporters of the West Michigan Hardly Homeless Panhandlers group on Facebook. The say he's just a scammer.

Dyer agreed to meet with FOX 17 in Lansing, where he was visiting family where he can now escape the negative publicity from panhandling in West Michigan.

"They don`t know me," said Dyer. "They don`t understand what I go through every day. They`re just out to get Facebook famous."

Related: Panhandler paparazzi group to hold weekend rally

Dyer and his father have been approached by people who believe they are not homeless and simply taking advantage of others’ good will.

"I think people can say what they want," Dyer said. "People can try and hurt me. People can try to hurt all the homeless, but as long as I survive every day, they can`t break me. I`ve been broken too many times before."

Dyer believes some of the criticism resulted from people witnessing his dad driving a truck.

"That`s my grandpa`s truck," said Dyer. "My dad sleeps in it every night. Just 'cuz I got a truck, just 'cuz I got a place to stay, it does not mean I’m not homeless. Until I have a home of my own, I’m homeless.”

For now, Dyer occasionally visits family in Lansing but lives with friends in Holland. He insists it's just a place where he can rest his head, but only if he can pay.

“I stay with somebody for $30 a night, when I can get enough,” Dyer said. If he doesn't get enough, he sleeps outside, he says. “I`ve made about $70 in a day, but that don`t happen often,” said Dyer.

He usually collects $30 or $40 in a day.

Because he doesn't want to over stay his welcome, Dyer usually showers in a campground.

“Every once in a while I take one at the place I stay, but usually just the campground,” Dyer said.

The 20-year-old generally carries with him all that he has, except for a few blankets and jackets that he keeps with friends in Holland.

“People gave me the clothes that I’m wearing,” said Dyer. “I`ve got about five shirts and two pairs of pants.”

He also has a cell phone. "The guy at the Metro PCS store hooked me up with a free phone and put me on a $40 plan," Dyer said. "I`ve got to figure out the $40 in a few days so I can keep it on."

Dyer told FOX 17 he is starting a job next week and will be holding a different sign, one that reads, "We buy gold."

He is also anticipating a call from Michigan Works!, which is helping him get signed up to finish school and earn his GED.


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  • Rick

    I don’t know if his story is true or not but the panhandler paparazzi need to calm down a bit they seem to forget that in Holland they are supposed to be God fearing Christian people who want to help their fellow man whose down on their luck not pass judgment on them and while they think they are doing a good deed what will happen when one of them gets hurt because they messed with the wrong panhandler

  • Jimmy Sok

    what about being a expecting father? or was that a scam as well? being offered jobs and baby needs but kid denies all of it and just wants cash? I’m sure he is very poor with a alcoholic of a dad who cant motivate him to do better but he’s 20. your rich in youth and have a long life ahead of you. pay who ever your staying with and get a job and im sure you will be on the right track in a month or two.

  • fred

    you and your worthless dad should get jobs if your not drunk or on dope there are lots of jobs if you want one you worthless p o s

  • stacy

    I work my ass off just to keep me afloat. All you do is stand on a corner holding a sign. Dosent sound like you do much to help your situation.

    • lori rodriguez

      You know what Stacy it dont matter if u work ur ass off ur not the only one who has a job!!! Not everyone dose some people are fired or let go you dont know for sure till u see it. And Now these days it hard to find a job out there he’s only 20 yrs old. He’s doing the best for his self and be alive for once’s.

      • James S

        Are you retarded or something? He’s a parasite that stands on the corner and pridlessly begs for other peoples hard earned money because he’s TOO LAZY to work. I stopped and offered this kid a job a month ago and gave him a business card. He said he’d rather beg because its more profitable for him. He may be broke and “needs money” but that’s only because he’d rather beg for your hard earned money than make his own. I am interested to see if he really starts working and gets off the corners though.

      • YM4

        FYI, Donnely and Request Foods have been advertising like crazy in Holland for help. There are jobs here. If the kid doesn’t have a diploma or GED then DAD can get a job there…

  • sissy

    i know jesse,he is a good kid and yes it is true they sleep in that truck from time to time and in woods or he stays with friends one which is my brother ,iv gave food to him and my little brother and everyone who stays at that place..its just a sad situation all around..and to the facebook paparazzi do u have nothing better to do with ur time???then pick on homeless people???worry about your jobs or ur life instead of others..find something better else to do with your time geeezzz

    • Susanne

      Unfortunately he continues to be homeless by choice. It’s not loving to continue to let him do nothing with his life, it’s very hateful and unloving to keep him begging and living off others. There are so many job training programs available, a true friend would want him to succeed.

  • Mary

    You can work in the fields they will hire anyone..there is no need to hold up a sign and ask others who work their butt off to make the money they give you ..I see it as Your an American and have papers I know there are a lot of jobs out there for you but you need to want to work…Frustrates me how many people think its so easy to just hold up a sign and make money …and most of the money is used on drugs and alcohol. ….:/

  • Barbara Purvis

    I am a single mom with three kids. I do not receive child support, so I took on my responsibility of being a MOM and a DAD. I have always worked. I had a second ray amputation on my right index finger (I am right handed) so know I work 40 to 60+ hrs a Week with nine fingers… I am in pain most days… but it is my responsibility. .. I CHOOSE TO WORK I CHOOSE TO BE SOBER I CHOOSE TO BE DRUG FREE AND I CHOOSE TO PAY MY BILLS… be an adult.

  • Daniel Dyer

    I have worked the last four years at the Holland mission and my last name is Dyer yet I have never seen him in there once but he would always be welcome to go there.
    That leads me to believe their is unknown reasoning behind what he does.
    I only hope he would walk in truth and come to know JESUS as his LORD and Savior.
    May we never lose our love for one another as Christians for GOD is merciful to the wicked and unthankful and we are commanded to go and do likewise……….homeless people and even panhandles are not exempt.

    • jake

      I’ve seen Jesse and his dad sleeping in that truck a bunch of times I’ve also seen him at several different houses he seems top stay allot of different places obviously none of you can really say you’ve seen him actually live somewhere when I see him living all over

  • Brett

    For those of you so moved to belittle and demean these panhandlers, I suggest you continue to do as you have always done – keep driving, don’t give them money, don’t speak to them. I know their very public presence on street corners and on-ramps makes it difficult for you to deny their existence, but hostility toward these individuals (supposed scam-artists or not) does little but make a bad situation of poverty and homelessness worse. Rampant alcoholism and drug-addiction are very real concerns for the homeless, but that does not pigeonhole the lot. Nor should it be used as an excuse to demonize those struggling with such addictions.

    If others wish to give money, let them. You keep your “hard-earned” money. Go see a movie rather than making these confrontation and shame compilations. There are plenty of other real-world concerns raging across the country and in your community that to target this group seems motivated merely by a “not in my backyard” mentality. So these individuals make your blood boil for some unknown, deep-seeded personal reasons, but what harm are they causing other than ruining the “aesthetic” of your beautiful beach town.

    • Brandine Butlicker

      As a Christian you help where you can, but you are not supposed to allow yourself to be taken advantage of either. Also the bible says that a person that will not provide for his own family is worse than a man without faith. His refusal to work exempts a guilty conscience.

      • Brett

        As a decent human you help where you can, which admittedly is at your discretion. I completely agree that it is one’s own responsibility to ensure he/she is not being taken advantage of, and no guilt is or should be assigned to your or anyone else’s decision to forego handing out money – charity is voluntary after all. The guilt lies in treating him as a criminal or leper that must be run out of town.

        If this man can make more money in a single day panhandling than a job can provide, clearly he is very good at his game, and I can understand why he would be hesitant to find other employment. The fact remains that people are willingly giving this man money; he is not stealing the money. As a result, he and his family appear to be providing for themselves just fine. If everyone were to donate to the charities in place to help the homeless instead of this young man’s pocket directly, he would quickly have to find a new game.

        Again, keep your money if so inclined, and while your at it, spare your biblical ridicule.

        • john

          If he is misrepresentating his situation then he is stealing from people. If he put that time and effort into finding a job he would have one. But it’s a lot easier when people just give you what you want for free. Why would he find a job then? People are enabling him.

  • Trish

    It’s just hard to beleave anymore that people are truly hurting and need help because you do see so many people that choose to take the easy way out and feed off of others. That being said it’s not my place to judge, but when you see (and I do) so many people on disability/welfare but they sell wood, work for contractors for cash, tromp thru the woods to hunt all day, golf all day, or just sit and play games on there xbox but can’t get a job doing any kind of labor or my favorite is I would lose my insurances benifits if I start working. I think it was in the 70’s that it was 1 person on disability too 12 people working and now it is 1 person working to 10 people on disability. Which makes it hard to sympathize with people that look down on there luck. It’s like the new America dream is to be on disability if you can get away with it. I do wish the young man the best, just hard to know anymore who is truly in need or just trying to scam you. I figure God knows all and if he tells my heart “hey help him out” I do it with out hesitation. Hope it works out for this kid, and it will if he wants it to.

  • Jack H. Allen Jr

    That’s all a crock! The answer is simple…HOLLAND RESCUE MISSION! IF, what he says is TRUE, he AND his father would find ALL the help they need at the HOLLAND RESCUE MISSION! So, why take handouts from OTHERS, when they can get ALL they need at the MISSION…which is only a short walk from where they panhandle! So…you must ask yourself…WHY have they not been there yet???

  • sjsj

    He sounds stupid he can GET A JOB. I wouldn’t consider myself homeless because I live with my family still as long as I can WORK everyday like I do and not feed off others I’m supporting myself saving money to get on my own feet is something EVERYTHING has to do still young like him and don’t support what their doing GET A DAMN JOB LIKE EVERYONE else seriously their is no excuse for that

  • Harris

    I offered Jesse a job this summer filing paperwork for me. He turned me down and said that he would rather work the corners (like a prostitute). He told me I couldn’t pay him what he makes there. At least $100 a day and on good days at least $200. It’s true he has multiple signs and sometimes brings a girl with him for added sympathy. He appears young and the police were called in for a welfare check, but he refused their assistance. Many offer him clothing and other items, but he refuses. I do sympathize with the homeless. At 15 I was bouncing from house to house with friends due to a bad situation at home. That didn’t mean that I wouldn’t willingly work and would stoop to standing on a street corner begging for others money that they need to feed their own children. I have since grown up and obtained my law degree while raising a child as a teen. People can get their education, make a career happen and step out of the stastical pool of poverty. I’ve witnessed this kid almost every day he’s been in Holland. Signs reading “expectant parent”, “homeless”, “need work”. Yet he accepts nothing but cash. That’s super that he was given a cell phone on a plan with no credit or cited income without a large deposit and no verifiable address. My opinions of this kid and his father are my own. But ask yourself, if he stated that he doesn’t know if he is going to have the money for his $40 cell phone bill, how does he manage to have money for gas to get to Lansing to see family that I’m assuming can’t help him? Or to travel the lakeshore to beg?

  • Don Cook

    He’s not homeless. He chooses to tell LIES on his signs in order to garner sympathy and CASH. That’s this preferred way of taking money. He SHOULD be publicly shamed for scamming people out of money. He’s not different then a store that gets money based on false advertising. If we, as citizens, don’t stand up for what is good and decent then we let our towns decay around us. Letting a known liar and scammer take money from unsuspecting people is not right.

    • Max

      Publicly shamed? While we are at it lets bring back witch trials and cross burning……..the ignorance of some of these posts are scary!

  • ajaxouch

    Even if he is lying, what they are doing isn’t against the law. Honestly, I don’t care about people holding signs, it’s the ones that walk up and try to talk money out of me that are irritating.

  • nikara

    He’s not telling the truth especially if he told my mom right from his own mouth he wasn’t homeless n he begs about how much he makes an hour n buying expensive cigarettes yeah he told my mom a lot because he came to her job each day..did they ask about this baby of his because that’s important or was that a scam to..did you notice everything he was accused of he had an excuse. .smh I don’t care who gets mad I’m only speaking the truth but nothing good comes to those I’m just glad I don’t have to see them on the corner anymore!!!

  • fred

    you people who are on here telling what bad luck the p o s has get a life if he got off dope and can piss cleen there are lots of jobs all he has to do is go look.

  • Only God can judge me!!

    Wow you people are amazing are we all psychiatric professionals social professionals!!! Are we God pretty sure last time I read Bible it stated that we have no right to judge others that is for God alone. But man now a days everyone is so quick to throw a stone or their hurtful words at someone else the funny thing is how many of us go to church on Sunday and listen to the teachings of Christ well maybe we all need to pay attention a little more to this teachings Jesus loved and sat with the criminals the prostitutes the lepers. Well regardless of what this guy’s situation is instead of all this criticism maybe we should offer to bring him to church the age old saying what would Jesus do!!!!!

    • john

      We can’t judge others on their worthiness to get to heaven. We CAN judge them and should judge them on their deeds. If we didn’t there would be no accountability or consequences for our actions. If we didn’t judge people murderers and rapists would be left to roam the streets unchecked.

  • mnmll

    Good luck jesse i wish the best for u! People are people ..ignore them its always gotta be bad on someone to make them look better to hide their pos lifes behind closed doors if this doesn’t prove it to u! Even tho these losers hate on you i know when u get on your feet we can all look and them n say dam what a low life slum for bashing that kid in his time of need and not lifting him up. Karma will get them you will see!

  • Christopher Watt

    Well here is the thing people talk so much crap about homeless and panhandling, and how a job solves everything. let me ask you how much do you make an hour at yours? do you have a degree with clout? how many hours? I can personally say that I was offered 7 or 8 dollar an hour jobs, and only worked above 10 once. yeh if you rent a room you can survive off that, but truth is judgmental people with good jobs shouldn’t cry about forking over 40 cents to a homeless person. I do it all the time and that good fortune comes back to me.. Another thing talking about how they all do drugs and drink well how many of you abuse wives behind closed doors or drink yourselves into a stupor or cheat or ignore your kids for your work? working class people gamble and have bad habits so don’t blame all the bad things on homeless.. having a job helps but it doesn’t change your situation.. I personally wish all you greedy heartless assholes end up homeless and someone kicks your change cup down the street..

    • john

      Bull. I supported my spouse and children and even bought a house working for 8 bucks an hour at McDonalds. We didn’t have cable or internet but made do until something better came along.

    • Max

      BRAVO!!!!!!! Bless you for your kindness and acceptance! I was really starting to get scared to walk out of my own home less I be judged and harassed because I don’t wear a Hollister hoodie and Nautica jeans.

  • Trish

    I so dont want to hear the minimum wage argument, I made 4 bucks an hour as a waitress plus tips at a crummy little hole in the wall restaurant in newaygo county annually less than 10 thousand a year, after a hard divorce. With the help of nccs, 5 cap, and general assistance helping me and my 3 kids get by, worked developed a good credit score, bought a mobile on 5 acres (and trust me when I say it was the property that held the loan). Help is out there you just have to accept it, and you get what you give in anything. If you want it bad enough you do what ever it takes!! 10 years later make 4 times what I did, and that was just getting better jobs with the experience I was learning from the last one. I do wish him well and hope he gets the life he is looking for but if people offer him things/jobs and all he wants is cash he is right where he wants to be.

  • Ang

    If he makes even $30-$40 dollars a day, calculated by 30 still is reasonable. He can still afford to rent a room, and eat well. I have been on disability since 2009 due to unfortunate health issues. Worked in the financial industry for 27 years.
    I have limited funds making roughly $900.00 monthly for disability, I know it is a lot, but I rent a room, buy groceries, and still living a decent life, I am not a smoker and rarely have a drink, so maybe put an end top some habits. If both son and father is doing this then together they can get a small apartment and live happy and help each other.

  • makeluvnotwar

    Why don’t you take the time to turn this ridiculous amount of negative and hateful energy you panhandler Nazis have and turn it into a positive community that has real issues to concern themselves with. Like your own jobs, familys, ect…
    It seems you all get Your kicks by harrasing, stalking, bad mouthing, judging and shunning panhandlers and causing a community that only comes together when they feel they have the right to pick at a certain group of individuals. All of you who go around taking pics, stalking and harrasing these people well honestly you need psychiatric help.
    What ever happened to minding your own business, meaning if you don’t like it then don’t give them money.
    Go stand next to a drug dealer and fight real crime then you will be fighting for your community. Whining about panhandlers and driving them out of town is petty and just obnoxious.
    It is so irritating that I have been handing money out to every panhandler I see, wanna know why? CUZ ITS MY MONEY!

    • Don Cook

      These are fake homeless people scamming people out of money. They’re not in “need”. They prefer to fleece the public by pretending to be in need. If you want to enable this type of behavior then feel free. But don’t think the rest of us are doing something wrong by pointing out that these people are taking advantage of others.

      • makeluvnotwar

        OK well by having a Facebook page dedicated to stalking the alleged culprit’s that you all live to hate and expose there lies, you are making your self’s look like a self-righteous angry mob.
        These people taking pics and video are endangering the traffic areas causing a huge scene all for what? Because the sign says they are “homeless” but in the eyes of the great ones they are not “homeless or needy enough? So if they change the wording on the signs they hold while they panhandle will you all leave them alone? I’m sure nothing they do will be enough and its not about exposing them, you all have found a small group of people that you feel you are better than so you can legally harrass them and feel OK about your own messed up existence.
        Live and let live.

  • Debbie A Arredondo

    I am very sympathetic to the homeless but when you stand there and watch three good souls offer these panhandlers a job and they turn it down it makes one think they are just scamming . If you want to get your life in order take the job as then you will make more than 30 or 40 dollars a day.

  • tory

    Last time I checked charity was certainly not voluntary- have hou glimpsed your deduction column lately? I f you wwant to give yet more of ypur hard earned cash to those who very likely think your a chump for slaving in a job thats on you but leave those of us with a little common sense alone.

    • Brett

      Common sense should tell you that charity is very different than the social contract you agree to as a citizen of this country. Common sense tells you to keep your money if you aren’t comfortable giving it away.

      I can tell you that I rarely give money directly to the homeless or needy, but rather to the charities in place to help them. What I don’t do is humiliate them for not being better, for not making more of themselves, for not making ‘wiser’ decisions.

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