Dad, daughter find one another at Soup Kitchen after years apart

A MAN NAMED MIKE, who did not want to give his last name, was reunited with his teenage daughter at Grand Junction’s Soup Kitchen, where he was a guest and the young woman was a volunteer. He is shown above with his motorcycle in Lincoln Park.

Rare but life-changing moments, the topics movies are made of, happen in very real life and they happen here.

Mike, aka “Mike on a Bike,” of Grand Junction, went to the Grand Valley Catholic Outreach Soup Kitchen one snowy day in January and unexpectedly reunited with his daughter, whom he hadn’t seen in almost 11 years. She was a volunteer, serving food on the line to earn credit for high school.

“There was a little brunette there who I did not recognize,” Mike said. “It’s strange; you’d think you’d always recognize your kids. You don’t.”

Mike asked that his last name not be printed in order to protect his daughter’s privacy.

Angela Walsh, director of the Soup Kitchen, said she will never forget that day.

“Someone came running and told me,” Walsh said.

She said she saw the father and daughter embrace and that Mike’s daughter came in several days after they met just to see her dad again.

“They were just happy to be there,” Walsh said.

Before meeting in January, Mike hadn’t seen his daughter since she was 7 years old. She recognized him from old photographs and videos of Mike on his motorcycle in the ’80s, he said.

“She said, ‘I think you’re my dad,’ ” Mike said about that day in January. “And I came back with ‘I think I’ve heard that before.’ ”

He laughed.

“She looks so much like her mother,” he said.

Mike didn’t elaborate on why he was separated from his daughter, only that he had thought she and her mother had moved away.

“If it wasn’t for the Soup Kitchen, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “And if it wasn’t for the Soup Kitchen, I wouldn’t have reunited with my family.”

Mike wanted to share this story because he thinks the Soup Kitchen has made a difference in his life and he wants people to support it. 

The Soup Kitchen’s annual fundraiser, Empty Bowls, is Saturday .

For 37 years, he was a tattoo artist, Mike said.

Now, he works on motorcycles and rides a stark white bike with clean black leather saddle bags and leather tassels hanging from the handlebars.

At one time, though, Mike was homeless and a regular guest at the Soup Kitchen’s noon meals. That changed after he got tired of living down by the river, he said.

He worked temporary jobs, saved up money and rented an apartment, he said.

“I want to see the Soup Kitchen do well,” he said. “The sad part about it is, some of (the guests) really, desperately need it.”

On the day he reunited with his daughter, he said he was selling a friend an old RV he owned.

Mike said his daughter had planned on finding him once she turned 18. She was one month shy of her 18th birthday when they reunited.


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