Friends take in homeless man after World story

Blaine Bellew pets Brother Bear the cat while watching television Thursday evening. He was taken in by lifelong friends after The Wenatchee World ran a story about his situation this week. Bellew has been homeless October and slept in an apple bin in Memorial Park nearly every night.

Editor’s note: This article discusses suicide and depression. If you are in crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800) 273-8255 or the Chelan-Douglas Crisis Hotline (509) 662-7105.

 

WENATCHEE — It’s been three days and Blaine Bellew said he’s still in shock.

“Besides the physical difference, the mental and emotional difference is still sinking in,” he said.

For the last three months Bellew, 55, was homeless and sleeping in an apple bin in Memorial Park in downtown Wenatchee. That changed Tuesday when his lifelong friend, Lindsay Rey, read an online story about his situation in The Wenatchee World and immediately took him in.

“I was all settled in to sleep in the apple bin and then I was sleeping in a bed that same night,” Bellew said Thursday. “At first I was just really embarrassed but afterward I felt really humbled and grateful that she came and cared.”

Bellew has been staying at Rey’s home in East Wenatchee since Tuesday, watching old wrestling highlights and spending time with her cats Brother Bear and Micky.

The pair used to work together at the Buzz Inn in East Wenatchee and have been friends for years.

But Bellew’s life began to deteriorate in 2017 and 2018 when his depression and suicidal thoughts began to take over, he said. He quit his job and was evicted from his apartment.

Rey, and their mutual friend Bill Bilderback, tried to help him pay his bills and get his life on track, she said. But Bellew stopped returning their messages and they fell out of touch.

Before reading the story, Rey hadn’t heard from Bellew in months and hadn’t seen him since December 2017, she said.

“I’d been looking for him for quite some time,” she said. “I’d been in touch with Billy, asking ‘Have you seen him? Have you heard from him?’ He’d even gone so far as to check with the coroner’s office.”

When Rey found out he was still alive she said she felt immediate relief.

“We were really lucky to have that article come out. It was like ‘we found him,’” she said.

One of their former Buzz Inn coworkers sent Rey a link to the story Wednesday night and she went to the park to find him, she said. 

“I drove over there and wasn’t really sure what to expect,” she said. “All I knew is I was either going to spend an entire night standing there, begging him to come with me or he was going to be excited to come with me.”

After a few minutes Rey convinced Bellew to come with her back home, she said. He had a hot shower and she washed his clothes.

The trio is still figuring out what Bellew will do next, but they’re not in any rush to make a decision, Rey said.

“Blaine has an abundance of options right now and opportunities,” she said. “We can at a very slow pace to determine where to go from here, because there’s really not a big rush.”

Bilderback, the mutual friend, happens to work at the Women’s Resource Center where his job is to help find housing for the homeless. He’s got a couple options in mind for Bellew, he said.

“I get to do this every day with all sorts of folks but Blaine just sort of hits home,” he said. “Anybody is just one tragic event or one poor circumstance from being homeless. It could be a loss of a job or a health situation, any of us could be in Blaine’s situation.”

There were 143 unsheltered homeless individuals in Chelan and Douglas counties in 2018, according to the state Department of Commerce. 

With Bellew, they're first going to take care of the basics, Rey said. They’re getting him a phone and a new pair of glasses — his current pair are broken on both sides.

“True friends don’t judge and they never give up. That’s what you see right here with these three. It’s always been about love and friendship,” she said, turning to Bellew. “Finding out you were alive, I wish you could have felt what I did in that moment.”