Man Launches Fundraiser to Help His Former Teacher Left Homeless during the Pandemic

Jené Liebenberg
Mar 21, 2021
12:40 A.M.

Southern California native José Villaruel was left unemployed and homeless living in his car when a former student stepped in to lend a helping hand.


José Villaruel, a former substitute teacher from Southern California, was homeless with his car as his only form of shelter when former student Steven Nava recognized him and decided to help him.

Nava saw his former teacher a few times in the same parking lot before discovering that it was one of his teachers from his time spent at high school in the Fontana Unified School District.

Teacher writing on a blackboard. | Source: Pexels/ Pixabay

Teacher writing on a blackboard. | Source: Pexels/ Pixabay


Upon discovering the dire situation in which Villaruel was, Nava did all that he could to provide immediate relief. He gave his former teacher $300 and helped him to find accommodation at a hotel. Nava shared:

"I had a mission to help the teacher who was going through a difficult time during the pandemic."


Nava carried out this mission by launching a GoFundMe page to raise funds to support Villaruel, lovingly known as Mr. V.


Nava didn't only make use of the GoFundMe platform but also used social media to share videos of the former teacher to tell his story and rope in the help of more people.


Villaruel's only source of income was his social security check, and the majority of that money was sent to his ill wife, who was living in Mexico, which didn't leave much for him to live off of.


Nava set a $15,000 goal for the online fundraiser, which has been surpassed as the total amount raised currently stands at $27,000. The former student didn't stop at the GoFundMe campaign but also ensured that the teacher felt appreciated.


For Villaruel's 77th birthday, Nava organized a gathering for him where all of his former students got together to celebrate their high school teacher. At the party, Nava presented Villaruel with the $27,000 check. Nava said:

“I want him to feel that he’s cared and loved by all those who he’s helped along the years.”


Villaruel is one of many people displaced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the statistics surrounding homeless people skyrocketing since the lockdown has been enforced.


Faith Mission homeless shelter in Columbus, Ohio, is one facility that has been set up to cater for those who have nowhere else to turn to, providing them with a roof over their heads and a safe place to sleep.

The shelter transformed their building at the beginning of the pandemic to ensure that they maximized the space they have to take in as many people as they could.

They incorporated plexiglass barriers and an air-purifying system to minimize the threat of exposure to the virus and are working on getting those that make use of the shelter access to the vaccine as soon as possible.

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