A former substitute teacher who fell on hard times and was living out of his car got help from one of his former students in the best way possible.
Jose Villarruel, 77, who goes by the nickname Mr. V, worked as a substitute teacher in California for decades. Steven Nava, a former student, remembered meeting Mr. V in 2014 during his freshman year of high school, USA Today reported.
“He was a pretty cool teacher, and like, you know, he wasn’t like those sorts of substitute teachers that would just take attendance and then, you know, just sit and have the whole class go crazy,” said Nava. “He was, like really passionate about making sure everybody, you know, is actually getting something out of the whole lecture.”
After Nava graduated high school, he began noticing Mr. V in his neighborhood.
“I really honestly never got the impression that, you know, he was homeless or anything. And then until like now this year, I started seeing him more frequently,” Nava said.
At first, Nava spotted Mr. V at the fast-food joint near where he went to college. Then, Nava noticed Mr. V’s car would be parked in his neighborhood each morning when he went to work.
What Nava did not know is that Mr. V had been living out of his car for eight years.
When the pandemic forced many businesses and schools to close and operate remotely, Villarruel decided to resign from his substitute teaching job so he could collect his pension, KTTV reported.
The money from his pension was not enough for him to sustain himself.
Villarruel told Nava about his situation, prompting Nava to give him $300 and a hotel room. Nava was able to locate temporary housing for Villarruel, but he wanted to do more for his beloved teacher.
So Nava created a GoFundMe to help his teacher. The first campaign raised $27,480. Nava’s GoFundMe got a lot of attention from the media, former students, and local officials.
So after Nava and the community gathered to present him with the first $27,000 check, Nava created another GoFundMe page called “Keep Mr. V Moving.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the page raised more than $27,000, bringing the grand total of money raised for Villarruel to more than $55,000.
Villarruel plans to use the money to get a better living situation.