Former Student Helps His Old Teacher Who Became Homeless Due to Pandemic


Inspiration | By Adrianna Zavala | March 14, 2021

Our teachers are incredibly important to us. Can you think back to all the teachers you’ve had? I bet even your earliest memories have some fragment left that remembers your teachers, even if it’s just for one little thing that they did. Those memories stick with us.

Even though we’re only with a teacher for a year or so, they can have immense impacts on our lives. We spend eight hours a day, five days a week with them, after all. Can you say the same for your own parents? Do you ever wonder if you will ever be able to have the same impact on your teacher as they did on you?

Perhaps the job of a teacher is to help us to the point where we can help future generations. In the case of this story, this teacher’s good deeds came back around to help him. After losing his job and home to the pandemic, his former student came to his rescue.

A Chance Encounter

Steven Nava would wake up every morning to go to work seeing the same tragic scene. He would see a man in the parking lot, sleeping in his car. Steven Nava could only assume that the man was homeless. What Steven Nava didn’t know yet was that he knew the man sleeping in the car. Is it fate or just dumb luck?

Nava spoke with NBC Los Angeles, "I noticed that he had all of his belongings in his car, and that's when I realized he was homeless.” That wasn’t the biggest revelation for Steven. He also realized that the man was his very own former substitute teacher. Mr. V. Better known as Jose Villaruel, Mr. V was a substitute but once schools went into virtual sessions, the work dried up and he lost his home.

Steven Nava Extends Boundless Generosity

Steven Nava approached Mr. V and spoke with him upon realizing that he knew him. Not only did Steven Nava give Mr. V the time of day, he also gave him $300 and helped him find a hotel. “I had a mission to help the teacher who was going through a difficult time during the pandemic.” According to Steven Nava, Mr. V told him that his only source of income was going somewhere else. "I spoke to Mr. V, and he told me that the only source of income was a monthly Social Security check, and that most of that money was sent to his wife who is very ill in Mexico."

Mr. V had good spirits throughout his rough time. In the worst of times, Mr. V would tell himself, “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.”

$27,000 Got Raised for Mr. V

Steven couldn’t just leave his former teacher with a little bit of cash and a hotel room. He went to Twitter to ask people to contribute to a GoFundMe for Mr. V. His message said, “Mr. V was a great, funny and helpful educator and substitute teacher in the Fontana Unified School District. 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.”

The original goal for the funding campaign was $15,000, but it has since surpassed $27,000. Mr. V can’t believe it. “Am I dreaming? 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.”

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