At this point, it’s common knowledge that the pandemic has had a negative financial impact on many Americans. When the pandemic hit, many people lost their jobs. Some people dealt with food and housing insecurity. And this homeless teacher experienced exactly that.
But if there’s one positive thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that there are tons of amazing humans out there who are willing to lend a hand when they see a fellow human suffering.
Recently, a homeless teacher named José Villaruel, received help from a former student who discovered him sleeping in his car.
The former student’s name is Steven Nava and he ran into Villaruel, purely by coincidence. “Every morning/night I’ve always noticed this older man that would stay out in his car constantly at this parking lot near my house, even when the weather was bad,” wrote Nava on Twitter. “He looked familiar…”
Nava ended up approaching the older man. That is when he discovered that the man was him former teacher José Villaruel, whom Nava affectionately calls “Mr. V”.
“Turns out he’s gone homeless since the whole pandemic hit and he’s been struggling getting back to his feet,” wrote Nava. “His car is really old and that’s where he’s been staying for the past year.”
Apparently, the homeless teacher had only one source of income–a monthly social security check. He sent most of the money to his sick wife in Mexico.
..I confronted him about it and asked what his situation was, so turns out he’s gone homeless since the whole pandemic hit and he’s been struggling getting back to his feet. His car is really old and that’s where he’s been staying for the past year. I felt like the need to help..
Nava gave Mr. V $300 to get a hotel for the night. Meanwhile, he got to work to try and fix the homeless teacher’s situation more permanently. “I had a mission to help the teacher who was going through a difficult time during the pandemic,” Nava told TODAY.
José Villaruel’s former student took to Twitter to inform his followers of Mr. V’s situation and ask for additional help.
“I come to the Twitter community and ask for help in raising money to help him out,” Nava wrote. “I know if we can all pitch in even $1 it will go a long way.” Nava shared a link to a GoFundMe for Mr. V. And to his surprise, the donations began to roll in.
By the end of the fundraising period, Nava had raised over $27,000 for the homeless teacher–far surpassing his original fundraising goal of $15,000.
Donations flooded in both from Villaruel’s former students and from concerned citizens who were happy to help the older gentleman get back on his feet.
“[Mr. Villaruel] was always so sweet when I had him as a sub 🙁 Thank you so much for looking out for him I hope you reach your goal for him!!!” wrote one Twitter user.
As a final gift, Steven Nava planned a surprise party for Mr. Villaruel 77th birthday that happened to be that week.
Former students of Mr. V gathered to pay tribute to the teacher who had touched their lives years before. When Mr. V showed up, they all sang “Happy Birthday” to him. Then, Nava gifted a stunned Mr. V with a $27,000 check.
José Villaruel told media outlets that the experience touched him deeply.
“It is an experience of my life that will be kept for the rest of my life. I carry it in my heart,” he said. “I felt that something was going to happen, that things were going to change, and it happened suddenly when I least expected it.
Since then, Steven Nava has continued to fundraise for Mr. V. Altogether, he has raised over $50,000 for his former teacher–and counting. You can visit the GoFundMe page here.
Photo via Cielito Lindo Family Folk Music/Facebook
While the pandemic has negatively impacted a lot of Americans, those who derived their income from in-person industries like food, hospitality, and live entertainment, have been hit the hardest.
Once COVID-19 shut the country down, many household were forced to scramble to make ends meet. And while the government offered some assistance, for many it wasn’t enough.
This predicament was exactly what the Chicago family, the Luceros, were going through.
The Luceros are a Chicago-based Mexican-American family who moonlight as the mariachi band, Cielito Lindo. Around Chicago, the Lucero family was known for their astonishing musical abilities.
Juan and Susie Lucero are parents to a talented team of seven children, all of whom play different musical instruments and have breathtaking singing voices. Diego, Miguel, Antonio, Carlos, Lilia, Maya, and Mateo all have different roles within the band, while Juan is the bandleader.
Before the pandemic, the Lucero family derived the majority of their income from their live performances. They would cover classic favorites like “El Rey” as well as doing mariachi-twists on modern pop hits like Cardi B’s “I Like it Like That”.
But when COVID-19 hit in March of 2020, the Lucero family was no longer allowed to play live events.
All of their performances were canceled. Even their long-standing weekly gig at a local restaurant disappeared. Their income dropped by 40%.
While the Luceros tried to cut corners and make small changes, the reality was, they couldn’t keep up with their bills. By the time Christmas rolled around, they were $18,000 behind on rent. They got an eviction notice.
The family had heard that the government had launched a rent-assistance program, but they couldn’t find many details on how to apply. They were completely lost.
Desperate for help, Juan Lucero reached out to his Facebook friends, asking them if they knew how to apply for government assistance.
But what he got in return was something even better. Their community decided to step up and take action.
“A few of us talked and said, ‘We can’t let them be evicted from their home. There’s just no way,'” their neighbor, Robert Farster, recently told CBS This Morning.
Farster ended up creating a GoFundMe page for the Lucero family. “Our good friends, the Luceros, need help,” he wrote. “Juan, Susy and their seven kids are too proud to ask for it, so as their friends, we’re stepping in.”
Within days, Farster had raised over $60,000, veritably saving the Luceros from eviction.
“It’s like a miracle. We didn’t expect that,” Juan Lucero told This Morning. “It feels like a big warm hug from many people.”
Juan’s wife, Susy Lucreo felt the same way. Despite these divisive times, she felt tons of love and support from her community.
“We feel very much loved and accepted as a Mexican-American family with roots in Guadalajara,” she told This Morning. “And we come together to share that combination of culture, which really is what America is all about–this big melting pot.
Good deeds make for a good world. We all know there’s some sort of truth in that, but these days there’s so much in the world to shadow goodness and kindness in the world. Fortunately, people have been quick to share their memories of acts of kindness and good deeds.
And on Reddit no less!
Users on Reddit are sharing the most humbling acts of kindness they’ve ever experiencexd.
Check them out below!
“This is a few humbling kind experiences all wrapped into one: My mom got suddenly diagnosed with cancer and deteriorated unbelievably quickly. She seemed totally healthy when she was diagnosed, yet died 6 weeks later. She had me when she was older (45) so it was always her dream to live long enough to see me get married. When my boyfriend of 8 years found out she was sick, he immediately asked me to marry him. Humbling experience #1.
We then tried to find a justice of the peace ASAP to officiate the wedding at my parents’ home. There was only one in the small town my parents lived in. She was all booked up but when she heard why we needed to book ASAP she reworked her whole schedule so that she could be there for us (humbling experience #2)
Our family and friends then went out of their way to plan the wedding for us so that I could be with my mom in pallative care. My aunt and uncle drove 5 hours to us, got flowers, candles, a cake, champagne and set up the house for the wedding. Our neighbours took care of our dogs and planned a catered reception for us. My best friend (the only person I really wanted as a brides maid) nearly got fired from her new job in order to get the time off to be there, and she and her boyfriend drove for 6 hours to be there. Everyone was so wonderful, well beyond what I could’ve ever expected or asked for. It was so amazing and heartwarming. (Humbling experience #3)
My mother was able to attend the wedding and it was a very joyous occasion, despite the circumstances. She passed away 3 days later. Even though it wasn’t a traditional wedding, it was perfect because so many people that we loved dropped everything to help fulfill our dreams.” –awkwardmumbles
“In a thread asking what things my children don’t know, I shared that we were struggling financially, that I often lied to them and said I’d already eaten, but I knew the situation was temporary. Reddit users suggested I create an Amazon wish list and sent us food, gifts for the kids, and even a pair of shoes for me to replace the pair I’d been wearing for years. The words of encouragement got me through a very tough time. I’m working now, and while I’m still digging out of lots of student loan and medical debt, last Christmas I was able to pay it forward, by sponsoring a family for Christmas. I’ll never forget the kindness of the people here.” –surpassing_disasters
“I’m not the richest guy in the world. I was in grade 11 and at that point I had been playing the same cheap $150 guitar for 10 years. One day during the year, it was my birthday. My girlfriend at the time had already told me that she couldn’t make it on that day because she had a family thing. I didn’t expect much. Two of my friends finally convinced me to grab dinner with them so we did. We then headed back to one of my friends houses. When I got there, about 20 friends (including my girlfriend) were there. They had thrown me a surprise party. They then pulled out a guitar case. They all put their money together and bought me a $2000 brand new American Fender Telecaster. I don’t think I have ever been so humbled by the kindness of my friends and I will never forget what they did for me.” – Krebsy92
“I was living in another state with my family,my husband and son (I was also pregnant). we hit some hard time. Money was very low and that week we only had 30 dollars for food for the next 4 days. I went to the grocery store and picked out some food (rice, beans, smoked sausage, eggs, etc..). I went to the self service register to check out and it came to 25 dollars. I went to my pocket for my money and it wasn’t there. I turned red in the face with embarrassment and I told the cashier maning the self checkout lanes I must of dropped it so please cancel the order. He didn’t. He paid for it out of his own pocket. I thanked him up and down. I went to my car and cried.” –thepurplefrog
“My uncle gave me $500 when I left for college (he usually gave money to me and my cousins). He was murdered months after, the day one of my older cousins was getting married. She gave EVERYTHING from her wedding that could be useful at the funeral (food, alcohol, sodas). My cousin is poor, by the way.” – mrcolon96
“I was arrested for possession of marijuana in Texas and before I even made a phone call out, a random lady bailed me out and drove me to my car, paid to get my car out of the impound, and let me pay her back like 5 weeks later.” – echo_astral
“In 2004 my father died somewhat suddenly after fighting very aggressive cancer for a month. My family and I witnessed an overwhelming outpouring of kindness and love from our community. The local businesses adopted us for Christmas(dad died in early December), people brought us meals for weeks, and the local funeral director made sure that the services honored dad’s life while making it affordable for an already struggling family. The biggest thing, though, would have to be the hospital bills that my mom never saw. After a month in and out of the ICU and multiple surgeries the bills must have been huge, but someone picked up 90% of them without ever telling our family. We always assumed it was my dad’s boss, but we will possibly never know. There are countless more instances from that first few years, but I cannot begin to name all of them. It is truly amazing to see a small community pull together for a family in their time of need.” –perrydise_livin
“one winter, i spent a saturday with my mom. that evening, she’d bought tickets to a college production of jesus christ, superstar, and invited me to go with her. i wasn’t terribly excited about it, but i know it’s one of her favorite musicals and it would mean a lot to her if i went, so i just sucked it up. we would up having a lovely day together. we were walking back to the car after the show, and were in the middle of talking about something that had happened to her at work. an elderly woman walking in front of us slipped on some ice, fell, and started to kind of cry/moan/wail.
the elderly lady had two people with her (her kids, i found out later). one rushed off to get help, and the other (a man) stayed with his mother. as soon as the woman went down, my mother stopped talking mid-sentence (a difficulty for an italian-american woman who grew up in NJ) and rushed over to help. the man was kind of panicked. he kept kind of loudly asking his mother if anything hurt, what hurts, can you move your arms, your legs, etc. I’m sure he meant well but in his panic he was somewhat aggressive and it was scaring his mother even more.
my mom told the guy sternly but softly to calm down and bent down, in the snow/mush/ice, to talk to the woman. she cracked a few jokes about how she was clumsy and fell all of the time, it could happen to anyone, and how unfortunately her clumsiness seems to have passed on to her daughter (me). in between jokes, she took off her coat and put it over the woman and gently told her to keep still until help arrived. by the time some workers from the theater and security folks came over, the woman was smiling and talking about holiday recipes with my mother. she was laughing and saying how she felt embarrassed everyone made such a fuss over her. an ambulance arrived and after consulting with the EMTs, the woman was standing up and seemed okay. she agreed to go get checked out, and gave my mom back her jacket and thanked her profusely “for keeping her head” better than her own kids. her son tried to give my mother some money for “dry cleaning” (her clothes were wet and muddy from sitting next to the woman) and she told him it wasn’t necessary.
we started to walk away, and she continued our conversation from earlier – like, word for word, picked up with the sentence she’d left off with. it occurred to me that helping someone like that was just second nature to my mom. she didn’t think twice, and it would never have occurred to her to keep walking and let someone else handle it. and not only that, she handled it like a champ, calmed everyone down, and had folks laughing by the time she was through.
not a huge thing in the grand scheme of things, but it really struck me in that moment just how selfless she is. she is constantly doing things both big and small for others without ever expecting anything in return.”-MsSusieDerkins
“My dad took my brother, sister and I out for lunch at a local diner/ice cream shop. About three tables away was a very bedraggled mother with twin infants in carriers and two other small children, and it looked like today was the day for all of them to act up. After I was done eating I went to look at the pinball machine ( a lifelong obsession) and on his way over to collect me, my dad stopped at the counter, paid our bill, and the lady’s as well. He never mentioned it later, and did it in a way that no one other than the cashier would have even known, but I managed to catch it. I know its a very simple act, and it probably wasn’t very expensive, but the fact that he did it without much thought, and not even to use as a kindness lesson to us kids, always stuck with me.” – CigaretteCigarCigar
“I was in the hospital for passing out in class at college. I was 4 hours away from my parents and they couldn’t come to take care of me and I didn’t have a roommate in my dorm. I was pretty much by myself. A nurse drove me all the way back to my dorm. She then went to walmart, bought me soup, crackers, gateraid and a bunch of other things for when you’re sick. She said for me to call her if I needed anything. I didn’t know this woman at all. I almost cried. She saw I had no food or anything and was so kind to me. I will always be thankful for her kindness. She didn’t have to do that at all. She is an angel.” – ThatRedHairedGirl
“I was homeless and walking from Huntsville Alabama to Nashville Tennessee. I had no money, hadn’t eaten or bathed since the previous morning, and I was pretty much exhausted from walking all night. Stopped at a gas station to ask directions and a Jamaican guy who worked there was kind enough to give me a free sandwich. I remember sitting on the curb trying not to cry while eating what remains the best goddamn sandwich I’ve ever eaten.” –blkhatRaven
“When I was 19 and rapidly deteriorating on the waiting list for a liver, and the doctors decided we’d try the last ditch option of living donation. We called my only blood match, my paternal aunt. She agreed to be tested and was a perfect match. She came to my house in late August and told me that she was a match, and she’d set the date for September 30th.
On that day we rolled into surgery together, and 14 hours later I came out. She was in surgery for about 8 hours. I woke up 3 days later in a ton of pain. But I was alive and the liver was working. My aunt was doing great. She went home on day 4. I had another 2 weeks in the hospital and a hotel near the hospital.
That was 5 years ago. I’m doing great, never had a bout of rejection (which is rare and pretty awesome) my aunt says it’s like she never had surgery. I’m now 24, 25 in July. I wouldn’t have seen 20 without my aunt. I wouldn’t have gotten to travel, or have met my soulmate, or adopted 2 cats together. I moved across the country to live with my bf, and we’ve been together for 3 years. Life is very good.” –greffedufois