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California substitute teacher living in car gets surprise $27,000 check on 77th birthday from former student



Jose Villarruel, a beloved 77-year-old substitute teacher known as "Mr. V," had been living in his car for the past eight years as he struggled to make ends meet.

That suddenly changed when his former student at Fontana Unified School District, Steven Nava, found him rummaging through his car early Thursday morning and stopped to ask him how he was doing. 

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"That's when he opened up to me, like, 'well, I've been living in my car for a while and the pandemic just made it much worse,'" the now 21-year-old told Fox News.

With classes mostly online over the past year, Villarruel was left without a job, Nava said.

However, even before the pandemic and subsequent economic recession, Villarruel hadn't been making enough from his substituting job and was relying mainly on his Social Security to get by. Most of that money, though, would go to his family, including his sick wife, who had been living in Mexico, Nava said. 

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"So I just told him, 'you know everything's going to be fine,'" Nava said. "'I'm going to try to help you get through this and we'll see what I can do.'" 

So, he raised $27,000 to help Villarruel pay off his debts and set him up on a path to eventually go back home to his family in Mexico. 

As a substitute teacher, Villarruel always acted like a "family figure" to his students, Nava said. 

"[Villarruel] was just someone that kind of wanted you to stay on and guide you on that right path," Nava said, adding that it's those very details that stuck with him.  

Now knowing his current situation, and what he had gone through over the last decade, Nava was at a loss for words. 

"He doesn't have his family with him right here," he said. "He's going through this alone. He's much older and he's left with very little money." 

Source:-https://www.foxnews.com/us/substitute-teacher-living-in-car-gets-surprise-checkbirthday-former-student

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