Flint, MI– His name is Johnny Morse, but he goes by Brother Johnny, Uncle John, or Santa depending on the day.
Morse volunteers with Asbury Church every Tuesday distributing water and food, but on his own, he spends his time shoveling seniors’ yards and raising money to buy and hand out presents (dressed as Santa Claus) for kids who are living in motels during Christmas.
On Jan. 24, Councilwoman Ladel Lewis, Councilwoman Judy Priestley, and Councilman Quincy Murphy presented a certificate of recognition to Morse for “his hard work and dedication to the community.”
“I wanted to take the time out as well as my other colleagues to acknowledge him for the great things he’s doing in the community, because residents like this, they are the reason why we are doing our job,” Lewis said. “And he is the reason why Flint is definitely moving forward.”
Morse said he’s just trying to “spread the love.”
“I just try to love everybody, and I just wish everybody would just get along and just listen to each other and work with each other,” Morse said.
Morse told the council he went to prison when he was 16 years old, after being forced to leave home. It was snowing outside and cold, and Morse said he’d found an unoccupied home to sleep in and keep warm. That earned him two years in prison.
In his time in prison, Morse said other inmates came to talk to him about their problems and conflicts.
“That’s what we’re about. We’re supposed to lean on each other, we’re all human beings,” Morse said. “You know, and I’ve been just trying to help everybody my whole life and that’s what we’re supposed to do, you know. Not turn our backs, and listen.”
Priestley thanked Morse for his service, especially in the fourth ward, and told him his work is “truly appreciated.” Councilwoman Tonya Burns called him an “everyday hero,” and Councilwoman Eva Worthing thanked Morse for “choosing to be a kind man in a very unkind world.”
Murphy recalled seeing Morse pass out gifts to children at one of the motels.
“I never even thought about kids living in a motel … and it made me look at things in a different perspective,” Murphy said. “And just keep up the good work.”
Councilman Dennis Pfeiffer said Morse gives them hope.
“You’re the reason that we can possibly change, and we can improve for the better,” Pfeiffer said.