Mack and Clint: Friends, lesson-providers

Clint had been living in some woods in north Salisbury with other homeless people.

Clint had been living in some woods in north Salisbury with other homeless people.

Mack Malone never forgot his classmate.

He kind of kept an eye on him, “took up for him,” as he phrased it, when they were students at Parkside High School in the early 1990s. Clint, as he likes to be called, was bullied and Malone defended him.

Several years passed, and Malone, now 36, spotted Clint walking along Route 13, his head lowered, homeless and angry.

“Every time I would see him, I’d stop. He would walk from Chili’s all the way to Pep Boys. He walked up and down. He didn’t want to talk to me. He put a hate wall up. He felt everybody was going to make fun of him,” said Malone, of Delmar, who owns Lucky’s Garage.

He became determined to help.

“I have kids and I know that he’s someone’s kid, or he was someone’s kid, and it’s not fair for someone that doesn’t have a drug problem or alcohol problem to not be able to lay his head on a warm pillow at night and be safe.

“It’s not fair for me to have that and for him to be just like me and not be able to  have it. I wanted to help him.  At the end of the day people have hearts and souls and they have feelings and somebody stepped on his too much,” Malone said.

Clint, who had worked at Sam’s Club for 10 years, “got off on a wrong path,” Malone said.

The death of his grandfather devastated him especially since, when Clint was 7, he witnessed the death of his mother and sister in a car accident, then watched in horror as the car burned. It had a lasting impact.

“He lived in the woods behind Vernon Powell. There are 20 or 30 people who live there. Somebody gave him a pair of shoes, but he was mugged,” Malone explained.

“I’m the only guy who was able to get through whatever hate barrier he had up, even if it was me stopping and  talking to him every two or three days and him cussing me out. I told him, ‘I’ve got a goal. If you don’t get in this car, I’m going to go with you. Wherever you’re going, I’m going with you. If you sleep outside, I’ll sleep outside with you,’” Malone said.

Mack Malone's public embrace of his high school friend, Clint, has captured the community's attention.

Mack Malone’s public embrace of his high school friend, Clint, has captured the community’s attention.

Eventually, the tactic worked and Clint went home with him.

He’s been off the street about six weeks, but still doesn’t like to talk about his past. So, Malone gears conversations to the future, and asks Clint if he’d like to help others.

Malone arranged for Clint to stay in a camper, and gave him a job cleaning up. Clint responded by telling Malone he would be his shadow.

“He said, ‘Mack, if you go to the doctor, I’ll go to the doctor, too,’” Malone said.

Among Malone’s goals is to get a home built for Clint. He’s well on his way. Materials valued at $60,000 have been donated and there are enough volunteers committed to completing it.

A man of few words, Clint said, “I love it” during a discussion about working toward assisting those in need.

“I want to help them find a place and not be sleeping on the street,” he said. He enjoys his time with Malone “because of the fact that we can goof off,” he said.

Earlier this month, there was a fund-raiser at The Roof Center to help with costs for Clint’s house. Malone is trying to raise money to buy a quarter-acre lot.

“I want to get him caught up on things,” Malone said, recalling Clint had a long beard when he was homeless. “He was aggressive when I first started talking to him, but I think that hate wall came up. He was just mad at the world,” Malone said.

“He’s a friend. I would do this for any friend. I would do it for anyone.”

Clint, a homeless man befriended by Mack Malone, receives a long-need shave.

Clint, a homeless man befriended by Mack Malone, receives a long-need shave.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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