A homeless man who never asked for much, but always gave away what he had to others in need, never expected to receive so much in return from the community.
For Kenny Powell, 62, going from sleeping in the back of Chrysler 5th Avenue to a remodeled trailer is heaven.
Powell hasn’t had a place to call home in more than 20 years, so for him, a 1960s trailer is a mansion on wheels this Christmas. And even though Powell has little, he recently gave away his remaining food stamps to fund a family’s Thanksgiving dinner.
“I help people out when I can,” Powell said. “I guess I do it because I grew up that way.”
The St. Paul’s Episcopal Church recently acquired a trailer for Powell to live in.
“This is pretty nice,” Powell said while standing in the middle of the trailer under construction. “I can’t even remember the last time I had a place.”
Powell came to Payson in February with only the clothes on his back and his car. A mechanic by trade, Powell was having a hard time finding work in the Valley.
“Since the economy hit, it has been hard to find work,” Powell said.
Down on his luck but not his hope, Powell went to an area church and asked for gas money. He was given $20 and a job.
“After that, I met this person and then this person and that person,” Powell said of receiving different odd jobs. “People have been really nice to me.”
Powell approached Ken Caldwell, a church petitioner at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and said he needed car insurance to drive to work.
Caldwell got in contact with Payson Helping Payson, who paid Powell’s car insurance bill.
The church donates and works with Payson Helping Payson, Payson Community Kids, Vets Helping Vets and the Time Out Shelter.
“Like most churches, we are very committed to providing community support,” said senior warden Steve Drury, “anywhere where the needs are really great.”
Churchgoers hired Powell to do jobs around their homes, including painting and yard cleanup. The church paid him $8 an hour to keep up the church.
When Powell was not at the church, he lived in a tent on Flowing Springs Road and when it got too chilly, he started sleeping in his car.
“He has so little, everything is in that car, including him, is in the back seat,” Drury said.
When Drury found out Powell was sleeping in his car, he was determined to find him a suitable place to live.
Drury knew of an abandoned trailer at a Star Valley mobile home park. Christine Immel, of the Star Valley Mobile Home and RV Park, agreed to sign a quitclaim deed and hand the trailer over to Powell.
The trailer was in poor shape, after vandals trashed it.
“The vandals had taken everything, even the cap used for ventilation, and the floor was rotten,” Drury said.
Two members of the church, Dean Martinson and Caldwell took the lead in rebuilding the trailer for the last two weeks with Powell’s help, Drury said.
Martinson, a retired engineer, said he comes two days a week to work on the trailer.
“I came to help,” he said. “And I always liked building.”
The church bought a new fridge, microwave and cook top from Home Depot at a discounted price and other supplies were donated or bought with church funds.
Martinson hopes to move Powell into his new home by Christmas.
“This guy is different, he made a lot of bad decisions earlier in life,” Drury said. “But whenever he gets a little money, he will invite other homeless people over. He is the kind of guy who is very caring and absolutely honest.”
Once the trailer is complete, Powell plans to move it back to the mobile home park in Star Valley.
“I will probably live in it until I die,” Powell said.
Besides a new home, Powell also received a new set of teeth.
“He was pretty sick when he came to us and the source was his teeth,” Drury said.
Anderson Dental Group examined Powell’s teeth, removed the infected ones and made new dentures free.
“Giving is a churchwide thing,” Drury said. “We think that is our vocation.”