How Portland’s “Batman” saved a man’s life last night

If you aren’t familiar with Portland’s own Batman, allow me to introduce you to Roger Goodoak, founder of the Maine Homeless Veteran’s Alliance.

Roger Goodoak.

Roger Goodoak.

I wrote about the remarkable work that Goodoak does for my column in The Portland Phoenix back in August.

An excerpt from that column:

“His job isn’t very clearly defined, but basically he does whatever is necessary to help the homeless, destitute, and lost souls of Portland survive, which occasionally leads to folks not just simply making it through the night, but also finding renewed hope in life and even getting back on their feet.

As word has spread about the non-profit that he’s started, more and more people are reaching out to him to offer their support in any capacity possible.

He’s worked out deals with Poland Spring for hundreds of donated bottles of water, he brings donated pizza and other goodies to places like the Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs to help put food in hungry children’s bellies, he’s received hundreds of towels from local hotels that he brings to homeless shelters to help reduce the laundry burden on staff and allow more people to take showers.

On any given day or night, he lends a helping hand to anywhere from dozens to hundreds of homeless or marginalized people, and he does it all out of the goodness of his own heart.

He doesn’t get paid for his efforts, but as a Vietnam veteran who served in the Navy, then became homeless and disconnected from his family as he suffered from schizophrenia and PTSD following the war, he feels an obligation to give back to those walking in the same shoes that he once wore before getting his life back on track.

His primary mission is to help his fellow veterans find the services that they need, services that many of them don’t even know exist until they receive a little support and guidance from him, but he helps people in need regardless of their service record or lack thereof.”

Goodoak is a true hero in every sense of the word, and his Facebook page for the Maine Homeless Veteran’s Alliance is a really cool page to follow. On the page, Goodoak regularly posts stories about his experiences helping homeless people on the streets of Portland.

Goodoak handing out free pizza and water to people outside the Oxford Street Shelter on the Fourth of July in 2015.

Goodoak handing out free pizza and water to people outside the Oxford Street Shelter on the Fourth of July in 2015.

The stories are almost always harrowing, and regularly leave readers choked up and thankful for the work that he does helping Portland’s most marginalized citizens.

As touching and inspirational as the posts may be though, last night Goodoak posted an especially notable story, in which he and a couple of staff members for the Milestone Shelter quite literally brought a man back from the brink of death, right in the middle of Monument Square- the heart of downtown Portland.

The man was freezing to death in the frigid winter weather, but thanks to Goodoak’s vigilance, he’s still alive today.

Read Goodoak’s post here:

Goodoak has also periodically added photos of the scenes that he witnesses around town, here are a few of his more moving photos:

Note: Whether you’re looking for help, or looking to make a donation, reach Roger Goodoak at 632-9842, or like “Maine Homeless Veterans Alliance” on Facebook.

Chris Shorr

About Chris Shorr

Chris is a sixth generation Portlander who loves all things Maine. He has worked with mentally ill and marginalized adults at a Portland non-profit, on a lobster boat in Casco Bay, at several high-end Portland restaurants, and at a local meat packing plant. He also ran for Portland City Council in 2013, wrote a weekly column in the now defunct Portland Daily Sun, and currently writes a weekly column in The Portland Phoenix.