Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Homeless Navy Veteran in need finds wallet and moral compass

The US Navy lives by the values of HONOR, COURAGE & COMMITMENT - these are the cornerstone of all that the US Navy stands for and our people represent in all they do.

To illustrate the point, here is the cliff notes version......

Honor: "I will bear true faith and allegiance ..." Accordingly, we will: Conduct ourselves in the highest ethical manner in all relationships with peers, superiors and subordinates; Be honest and truthful in our dealings with each other, and with those outside the Navy.... We are accountable for our professional and personal behavior.

Courage: Courage is the value that gives us the moral and mental strength to do what is right, even in the face of personal or professional adversity.

Commitment: Care for the safety, professional, personal and spiritual well-being of our people; Show respect toward all people without regard to race, religion, or gender; Treat each individual with human dignity....Exhibit the highest degree of moral character, technical excellence, quality and competence in what we have been trained to do.

These are the CORE VALUES of the United States Navy.

It is great to see that even under the most difficult conditions and circumstances, this Homeless Navy Vet in Boston did not allow himself to stray from his "moral compass"....

Huzzah make us proud.

Homeless Navy Veteran in need finds wallet and moral compass

By David Filipov and L. Finch
Globe Staff And Correspondent / December 15, 2010

Maybe it was the holiday spirit. Maybe it was because it was the right thing to do.

Or maybe it was a little bit of both that inspired Brian Christopher to perform a simple act of kindness.

The 49-year-old Navy veteran was walking near City Hall Monday when something on the ground caught his eye. It looked like a comic book. Christopher, an amateur artist, picked it up.

It was a wallet with $172 in it. But no credit cards, license, or any other identification.

What would you do? While you are thinking about that, consider this: Christopher is homeless. He has no income. He has three children, ages 14, 12, and 10, in Maryland. He really, really could have used the cash.

Instead, he brought the wallet to the closest police station, where an officer found a receipt inside with a name and telephone number. The police officer used that to track down the owner, who picked up the wallet. All the money was there.

Yesterday, Christopher admitted he had struggled with the temptation to keep the cash.

“I counted the money and said, ‘Wow, I could probably get three nice presents with this,’ ’’ he said at the Frog Pond in Boston Common, where he had gone to skate. “But maybe it was some student’s Christmas gift money. I just kept thinking of the meaning of Christmas.’’

It turns out the owner, Meghan Schultz of Cambridge, really needed the money, too. The bike messenger put the wallet in her back pocket. It slipped out as she was making the rounds.

“I had pretty much written it off,’’ said Schultz, 22. “For me that’s a pile of cash.’’

To her surprise, she got a call from Officer Richard Osberg of District One. When she came in to claim her wallet, she also got Christopher’s phone number.

“I wanted to see if I could take him out to lunch,’’ she said. “It’s not like I have a ton of spending money but I can afford this.’’

Christopher served in the Navy in the 1980s in a noncombat position before receiving an honorable discharge. He worked for a while as a bartender at Cheeseburger in Paradise in California, Md. Christopher, a native of Quincy, returned to Massachusetts this month. But his parents did not have room to take him into their Braintree home. And because his mother spends her time looking after his father, a veteran who is disabled after a stroke 10 years ago, they could not help out their son. (His wife lives with their children in Maryland.)

Last week, after failing to find a job or a place to live, Christopher checked into the New England Center for Homeless Veterans on Court Street.

He was outside the building when he saw the wallet. “I was facing a conundrum, a real moral dilemma,’’ Christopher said.

Christopher called a friend in Las Vegas and asked her advice. He called his case manager at the shelter, ReneƩ MacLean. They both suggested that he turn the wallet in to police.

“Doing the right thing when no one is looking shows something wonderful about his character,’’ MacLean said. “It’s definitely nice, especially around Christmas.’’

Osberg, the police officer, said that people occasionally turn in property that they find on the street, and not only the ones who can afford to.

“It’s always good when people make the right decision when they come across anything of value,’’ Osberg said. “Just because someone’s homeless doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a moral compass.’’

David Filipov can be reached at, L. Finch can be reached at

© Copyright 2010 Globe Newspaper Company


Story about homeless vet returning wallet sparks outpouring of donations
December 15, 2010 04:49 PM

The phones were ringing off the hook today at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, in response to a Globe story about a Navy veteran staying at the shelter who did the right thing and returned a wallet full of cash.

E-mails also poured in from well-wishers and visitors stopped by to inquire about Brian Christopher, a 49-year-old Maryland man who, instead of pocketing the $172 in a wallet he found downtown, turned it into police Monday. Police were able to track down the wallet’s owner.

The shelter has never experienced such an outpouring of kindness, said Stephen Cunniff, director of community affairs. Not only are donations and presents rolling in for Christopher, but also for the center itself, he said.

“We appreciate that, and it’s very timely,” Cunniff said in a telephone interview today, during which six more e-mails inquiring about Christopher arrived in his inbox and both of his other phone lines lit up.

“I had no idea that it would turn into this type of response. It’s been an active day, but we’ve enjoyed it."

The Globe also received numerous e-mails today from people hoping to help Christopher, and donations were pledged to the Globe Santa program in Christopher’s name.

Christopher said he was overwhelmed by the reaction to what he thought was a simple good deed not worthy of attention.

“It’s been a little bit hectic this morning,” he said. “I feel like the Grinch at the end of the story. Not that I had a small heart to begin with, but it’s gotten a little bit bigger.”

The shelter is coordinating the donations into a fund for Christopher, Cunniff said.

Anyone interested in reaching out to Christopher should contact Karl See, the vice president of development for the center, at 617-371-1729 or

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