Being homeless isn’t easy, especially for Joshua Mello, since he has a 2-year-old daughter, Karissa. But it doesn’t stop him from doing everything he can from making a decent living to give her the best possible life.
“I am looking for regular means of employment and it’s a steep, uphill battle,” said Mello, who has been on his own since July 2010. “My daughter deserves a lot better than what I am able to give her right now. I want my daughter to have the best experiences regardless of my living conditions.”
While he has family he could live with in Florida, Mello does not want to leave Karissa. As an alternative, he’s living in his car, a 1991 Chevy Lumina, with a bank account that’s $22 in the red.
Mello became homeless after living in a home in Oakland Beach with his ex-fiancée. Through the course of their relationship, his ex often “threw him out” and at one point, she was unable to afford the home and ended up moving back in with her parents in Coventry.
“Now, I am fending for myself,” says Mello.
He hasn’t had any luck with finding a steady job. He has been doing temporary odd jobs, such as moving furniture, so he has money to put gas in his car or treat Karissa.
Mello said he’s willing to do anything to earn an honest living, but he’s skilled in specific areas, as he is A-plus and Net-plus certified, has a certificate in film deposition, as well as welding experience. He has also been trained as a vacuum chamber technician.
Before he was laid-off, Mello was working as a part-time ramp agent at T.F. Green Airport for about a year and a half and worked at a custom metal shop in Providence. He hasn’t been employed since July.
Yet, he’s also an inventor and hopes his latest idea, Klean Can, a wipe system that aims to sterilize the drinking spouts of cans, will prove lucrative.
He said it’s perfect for any beverage that’s served in a can, from soda and juice to energy drinks and alcohol.
“I’m sure you’re familiar with how dirty the tops of beverage cans are – there’s a potential for urine, feces, dirt, and everything else from the time it leaves the warehouse until the time it arrives into the consumer’s hand,” Mello said. “A lot of people use their shirt or a napkin and that’s not going to clean it, it’s just going to push it around or add germs. For the elderly or children, they can get poisoned or sick.”
With five individually wrapped two-ply medical grade Kendall wipes that are saturated with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, Mello said Klean Can disinfects drinking spouts and doesn’t leave any reside or harmful substance to ingest.
If marketed, he’d like to offer seven wipes in a package, with one for each day of the week, for a suggested retail of 99 cents. Further, Kendall has given Mello “verbal permission” to use their wipes in a kit-packing basis, as Klean Can is a test product.
At the moment, Mello is pitching his idea to local pharmacies and convenient stores like CVS and Cumberland Farms. So far, he hasn’t had much luck and they haven’t been particularly responsive to his ideas. He worries that the fact that he’s homeless often influences potential buyers to turn him away and is also concerned his ideas will be stolen.
Still, he remains positive.
“I want to build a service to help someone else and I’m trying to earn my way out of this mess,” he said. “I’m working on it very diligently with the limited resources I have and I’m not giving up. I need to keep pushing forward.”
Mello has other ideas for inventions, as well, such as a breakaway beverage ring, which has strategically placed perforations along the plastic rings that tear apart with ease. This, said Mello, can help wildlife, as birds and fish often become trapped in them and perish as a result.
He also has an idea to create a tamper evidence straw to prevent people from being drugged or poisoned, plus “Sober RIde,” a toll free phone line that operates at a low cost to safely transport people who are intoxicated and don’t want to drive under the influence, and the “Booger Buddy,” a puppet that he feels makes nose-wiping less frightening for children.
“I have numerous ideas that are viable; I just need to get somebody to sit down and listen to me long enough and not turn around and use my idea,” he said.
Mello, who attended Woonsocket Regional School in Massachusetts and obtained a GED, often parks his car in a local parking lot. He would also like to raise awareness for homelessness, as he said he sees “quite a few” homeless people who live out of their vehicles.
One or two park in the same lot he does but for the most part, they keep to themselves.
“Not everybody who is homeless is a drunk or drug addict,” said Mello.
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, on any given night there are approximately 643,067 homeless Americans.