DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — For three years, cars driving down Buford Drive were John Reece’s only neighbors.
Reece was alone and the underpass has been his only home.
"Just a little man that squished up under there," Lorri Brown said.
Lorri and Randy Brown stopped their car on the busy road to check on Reece one day.
"I believe he wanted somebody to reach out to him but didn't know how to say he needed help," Randy said.
The Browns said the 74-year-old was confused and told them he didn't have friends or family. He didn't want to leave his bridge; he just wanted a good meal.
"I cooked every day for him," Randy said. " And I'm a good cook," he chuckled.
The Browns started feeding Reece every day.
"He had ribs, fried chicken, steak; we fixed him mac and cheese. Whatever we eat, he eats," Lorri said.
In the rain and cold, the couple would bring him a warm meal and a little love.
"Make sure he has coffee, make sure he has cigarettes," Randy said. "When I bring him cigs, he does his little dance."
Over the past nine months, the Browns said they got to know Reece well.
"It's like a puzzle," Randy said. "You have to put it together what he's trying to say to you. And if you listen really well, you will understand exactly what he wants. But you have to take time and listen."
But one day the Browns went to bring him dinner and Reece was gone.
Lorri went on the hunt. She called any and everybody to find out where Reece had gone, according to her partner.
They found out he had been hit by a car and was in the hospital listed as a John Doe.
The Browns said he couldn't remember his own name or anyone who loved him until they walked into his hospital room.
"He was so excited," Randy said. "Because he was really agitated, he didn't know anyone, he was afraid."
The Browns posted on their neighborhood website that Reece needed help and they said the Buford community stepped up.
Kids wrote him cards and neighbors sent him food. A local attorney even took on his case pro bono to try and get him help.
"There's some red tape that we are going to get through, but we are going to help John the best we can," Attorney Ryan Bledsoe said.
Reece still has a long way to go, the Browns said. They don't know when he'll be released from the hospital or what support he'll need. But they say he's come a long way since they first saw him under that bridge.
The biggest change, they say, is that he understands that he is loved.
"It just makes you feel like what you're doing is worth it. What you're doing is really worth it," Lorri said.
The Browns started a fundraiser for Reece and hundreds of people in the community have already contributed.
Since news of what the Browns are doing for Reece started to spread, they say three other people struggling with homelessness have already reached out for help.