Homeless Man With 'Golden Voice' Gets Help, Including From Ohio's CUs

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COLUMBUS-A man with a remarkable voice who has been living on the streets here and who became a viral Internet sensation last week has had his fortunes reversed-and Ohio credit unions are playing a role.

The board of the Central Ohio Chapter of the Ohio Credit Union League has offered the man, Ted Williams, $10,000 worth of voiceover work this year to support a new CU marketing campaign.

The offer, which the Ohio league claims was the first presented to Williams last week, was followed by job offers and numerous requests for Williams to appear on local and national media outlets like CNN, ABC, the CBS Early Show, and Inside Edition.

"This man's life has completely turned around," said Patrick Harris, OCUL spokesperson, adding Williams has received offers from radio stations for full-time work. "I was standing no more than 10 feet from him for three hours last week and I could hardly get a few words with him. He is getting so many requests for interviews."

Williams, who had been living on the streets for years, quickly became a viral sensation due to his "magical voice." It all started when a videographer from The Columbus Dispatch spotted Williams panhandling roadside, asking for money in return for a quick sound bite. His cardboard sign said: "I have a God-given gift of a great voice. Wait 'til you hear it." Harris said Williams claims to have former radio experience before his life derailed due to drug and alcohol addiction. Williams reportedly has been sober the last two years.

The Columbus Dispatch posted the video story titled "Golden Homeless Voice" on its website (www.dispatch.com/live/content/multimedia/video/video.html). Nicole Carey, marketing manager for the $324-million BMI FCU in Dublin, Ohio, heard Williams' story on a local radio station and thought credit unions could play a part in improving his life. "I knew credit unions in central Ohio could do something for this man. It's just an amazing opportunity to help someone who can also help himself."

Carey contacted the league, which in turn contacted Central Ohio Chapter President Amanda Thomas, marketing and business development manager for Members First Credit Union here, to see if any opportunities for Williams existed within the local CU movement. Thomas stated that a humble Williams had tears in his eyes when he received the offer, which was made live on WNCI radio's Morning Zoo show.

Thomas said the Central Ohio Chapter is ready to help Williams find an apartment and secure transportation and groceries, if necessary. But Thomas said she was aware that Williams was offered full-time employment with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and that Quicken Loans, which has the naming rights to the Cavaliers' arena, had offered Williams assistance with obtaining a home.

But Thomas hopes the Chapter can help Williams with free financial counseling, which may be needed due to Williams' sudden fame and fortune.

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