Steven Nava, one of his students, alerted his Twitter followers and started a GoFund Me page for the teacher.
In an era where many believe kindness is hard to find, a group of students came together to help their teacher, who was left homeless due to the pandemic. According to NBC Los Angeles, Steven Nava was the first to recognize his teacher, José Villaruel, who was sleeping in his car. "I noticed that he had all of his belongings in his car, and that's when I realized he was homeless," said Nava.
TWITTER FRIENDS PLEASE HELP! 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. He looked familiar and I’m sure alot of y’all have had him as a substitute in Fontana... pic.twitter.com/3hFpIAOMCO— stvnna ⚡️ (@thesteven7) March 6, 2021
Villaruel, a substitute teacher known as Mr. V to his students, left his job after the school shifted to virtual sessions last year. Since then, the man has been struggling to have a roof over his head. "I decided the school situation has changed completely and I believed that a job of a substitute was over," said the teacher. He added, "In May, I submitted my resignation. I managed to do all of the paperwork, all of the arrangements to get my pension. I got my check, but that check didn't last long because I had debts already," according to Fox11.
With no job, the 77-year-old teacher was forced to depend on the monthly Social Security check. However, it wasn't enough for him as he has to send a large part of the money, every month, to his wife who is undergoing treatment in Mexico. Despite the unfavorable circumstances, Villaruel consoled himself by saying, "I must not give up, and I have to go on, and on, and do what I have to do for this stage to pass," according to Today.
When Nava realized Villaruel was his teacher, the young man did everything he could to help him. He donated $300 and helped the teacher move into a hotel. "I had a mission to help the teacher who was going through a difficult time during the pandemic,” said Nava.
Additionally, he reached out to his Twitter followers. As a result, Villaruel's old students joined hands in helping the teacher. Shortly after, Nava started a GoFund Me page to help the teacher.
“Mr. V was a great, funny, and helpful educator and substitute teacher in the Fontana Unified School District,” wrote Nava on the fundraiser page. He further added, "He’s struggled with getting back on his feet after the pandemic hit and has been living in his car ever since, despite the brutal weather and living conditions. This fundraiser is to help him out financially and (to get him) back to normal life.”
Soon, many generous people supported the initiative and collected more than $27,000. Besides collecting funds, Nava also made his teacher's 77th birthday special. He called some of his old students and reminded him that he had people who loved and cared for him.
“I want him to feel that he’s cared for, and loved by all those who he’s helped along the years,” said Nava. The man also handed over the check from the GoFund Me Campaign to the homeless teacher.
made me shed a tear knowing he subbed for my classes easily a dozen times. And crazy my lil bro also got subbed by him in hs few years after 💔— •joshua_🌲 (@JTrees00) March 7, 2021
Overcome with emotions, the pensioner stated, "Am I dreaming?” He added, "It is an experience of my life that will be kept for the rest of my life. I carry it in my heart. I felt that something was going to happen, that things were going to change, and it happened suddenly when I least expected it. I tell the students when they have a project, keep going despite the difficulties, don't give up. Do not give up. Don't quit."
Moreover, Nava was appreciated by many for his genuine concern and kindness. “Thank you for being such a hero in our community and looking out for those that need our help,” tweeted Claudia Gonzalez.
Cover Image | Source: GoFund Me Page