With all of the chaos and bad news in the world, it’s good to be able to share something good for a change. So if you’re in need of a pick-me-up or just a change from the usual negativity that you see on social media, then you’re going to fall in love with this story.
It all starts in Brazil at a little barbershop. A disheveled-looking homeless man walks in and seeks help from the staff inside. Not only did the team at the barbershop help this man with what he needed, but they also took it upon themselves to completely change his life for the better. We told you it was going to get sentimental...
Who Was This Homeless Man?
The man’s name is João Coelho Guimarães and he’s 45 years old. He has been living on the streets of Goiânia, Brazil for around three years - which is quite believable when you see what he looked like the day he walked into Padoo, a barbershop in Goiânia.
João is just one of the countless people who are living on the streets of Brazil. But João is a friendly man, and he managed to make friends in the places around where he stayed. Although living on the streets can be dangerous and cold and lonely, João made the best of his life.
The People in the Salon That He Entered Knew Him
Thanks to João’s friendly personality, the staff at Padoo already knew him. They had seen him in the area and had gotten to know the man over two or three months, prior to the day of this makeover story.
Although no one knew João’s entire story, like where he came from or why he had been living on the streets, they knew enough about him to enjoy seeing him each day. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly wave to make the right connections, regardless of who you are.
This Was No Ordinary Salon
Padoo is not just a place of snazzy haircuts. The establishment offers both hair services and stylish clothing. They really are a one-stop shop for anyone needing a complete style makeover, which is what made them the perfect place for João to enter.
The shop is quite stylish in itself, with guitars along the walls near the salon chairs and a motorbike instore near the clothing. On the racks in one corner of the salon are collections of pants and shirts for sale.
João Walked in and Asked for One Thing
In December 2020, João walked into Padoo looking quite rough. His hair had fully overgrown over his head and face, his beard was longer than manageable, and his clothes had definitely seen better days. But he wasn’t there to ask for much.
When João entered the salon, the staff members asked the man if he was hungry and wanted some food or water. But no, all he wanted was the chance to trim his beard. The staff said: “[Guimarães] came, and we asked him if he was hungry and if he wanted something to eat. But he refused and asked if we had a razor so he could trim his beard.”
This Salon Had Some Special People in It
Padoo is a trendy salon, but the company also plays a special role in the community. The staff, and the owner especially, have all made a large effort in recent years to play their part in making their community better. This comes in the form of a number of projects and charity work.
The owner of Padoo explains: “We have some social aid projects, and for us, it is very gratifying to be able to help people, whoever they are... In this time of the pandemic, many people lost loved ones, and others were left with financial difficulties. A little help is always welcome in such a difficult time.”
They Decided to Give João a Full Makeover
With their big hearts and helping hands, the Padoo team immediately thought of a way they could make João’s day even better - so they said no to his request to borrow a razor for his beard. Instead, they wanted to give him a complete haircut.
Explaining how and why they came to this idea, the salon’s owner said: “We decided to help [Guimarães] because we saw the extreme need he had. We made friends with him over the past two months. And when he asked us for a razor, we welcomed him and gave him the full experience.”
First, His Hair Needed Taming
To start off João’s makeover, the Padoo barbers began with his unruly hair. Living on the streets had clearly left João’s hair to grow quite long, but he also didn’t have many ways to keep it clean and tidy - which meant quite a tricky head of hair to sort out.
There were also probably a number of knots on João’s head, which is understandable when you’re living in such harsh conditions. The barbers took a video of the haircut that they gave João and showed how professionally they tackled the job.
A Bit of Shaving Was Needed
Starting at the back of the head, and armed with clippers, the barbers began by shaving quite a lot of João’s hair off. But they left a significant amount of hair on the top of the head, which looked a little strange at first, but there was a plan to all of this.
João seemed to quite enjoy the pampered treatment he was receiving, and there’s little doubt that it would have felt refreshing and relieving to have most of that tangled hair shaved right off. The makeover was far from over at this point, but already the man had begun to look happier with his appearance.
Then Came the Styling
After the shaving was done, the barber could finally get to the fun part - styling the hair! They left some longer hair on the top of the head and used it to create a simple yet snazzy-looking style. By combing and trimming the top hair, the stylist gave a fresh look to João’s face.
João still had a way to go in order to complete the makeover, but the haircut was now done! Finally, the man’s face was open and visible, and his long and tangled hair was no longer covering up the kind eyes that make João so likeable.
Not Forgetting the Beard
Once João was all done with a shave, cut, and style of his hair, it was time for his beard - which is what had brought him in to the salon in the first place. It was clear that João’s beard was getting too long and out of control for him to deal with.
Luckily for João, the team at Padoo were more than ready to help him clean up his beard and help him look and feel like a brand new person. He must have been so excited to get the trim that he had been looking for originally.
A Very Relaxing Trim
For the beard trim, the barber had João lay back in the chair. For this man who had been living on the streets for so long, this was a true and unique moment of pampering. As João sunk into his relaxed state, the barber got to work on his beard.
This was the final step in freeing up João’s face and transforming his previously untidy look into the handsome man that he really was. João couldn’t see just yet, but he was slowly but surely resembling he was before he endured such hard living conditions.
You Could Now See João’s Smiling Face
With his knotted and overgrown hair cut and styled, and his beard trimmed to a perfect length, you could perfectly see the smile on João’s face. It must have been an amazing feeling, after three years, to finally feel more like the man he had been before he ended up on the streets.
The video shows João’s transformation from a tired-looking homeless person to a clean and happy man. It’s enough to bring tears to the eyes of those watching at home. But this still wasn’t the end of the makeover that Padoo had offered João.
And Finally, a Change of Clothing
To bring this “full experience” to completion, the staff at Padoo organized a brand new outfit for João as well. Then they got him to do some modeling in the salon, and he truly did look proud and thankful for his day of pampering.
João was also given a few new shirts and pants to take with him, giving him something fresh and clean to wear once he left the salon. If you take a look at Padoo’s Instagram account, you’ll be able to see the images of João modeling his new look and a very stylish suit.
The End Result Was Amazing!
A fantastic part of this makeover was that it was a completely voluntary act by everyone working in the salon. The owner, Mr. Lobo said: “It took two hours to complete the transformation. The whole team volunteered, and everyone did a little, adding up to a surprising result.”
The result was indeed quite surprising, and we’re sure even the staff were a little taken aback by the man standing in front of them by the end of the two hours. As for João Guimarães, living on the street can strip away a lot of a person’s dignity, but this transformation shows that it’s never really gone forever.
João Looked Like a Completely Different Person
It’s amazing what a haircut can do for a person, and in João’s case, this cut really transformed him. Not just in his appearance, although there was a noticeable change there, but it could also be seen in his mood and the way he carried himself.
Gone was the weary old-looking homeless man that had walked into this Brazilian salon, and in his place stood a confident and proud man. After so many years of being out in the cold streets and unable to afford luxuries like professional haircuts, João must have been enjoying this day.
He Was Very Happy With His New Look
Although João didn’t say much as he was looking at his new look in the mirror, it wasn’t hard to tell that he was pleased with what the team at Padoo had managed. The man of few words simply showed his happiness on his face.
But with the smile that lit up João’s face, there were also a few tears of joy that tumbled out of his sparkling eyes. It was definitely an emotional moment for João and the amazing people in Padoo, seeing this transformation that came out of pure kindness.
He Walked Away With a Few Extra Surprises Too
The team at Padoo also decided that they wanted to brighten João’s whole month, rather than just his day. And so they gifted him a few items of clothing from the salon. He got to take a few shirts, a pair of pants, a jacket, and a pair of shoes away with him.
For someone living without a home, fresh and clean clothing can be hard to come by. And not only is it hard to try and do laundry but buying new clothes can be an expense that just isn’t possible for the homeless. So brand new clothing was an even bigger surprise for João.
The Salon Posted the Makeover on Social Media
While they were busy with João’s ultimate makeover, the Padoo team decided to film the whole experience and save the video for their social media. They posted this along with a few images showing a before and after onto their Instagram account.
This meant that the whole world could see what a difference the salon had managed to make in João’s life. But it also brought awareness to the fact that the homeless are still people, and they deserve the same things that the rest of us enjoy - like clean and neatly cut hair, and fresh clothing.
João’s Video Went Viral
Padoo’s social media following exceeds 9000 people, so when they posted the video of João’s makeover experience, they had quite a large audience to show it to. But no one in the team could have imagined how much attention the video would get.
The post with video had a caption that encouraged everyone else to follow in the Padoo team’s footsteps and make 2021 the year that they did something good for someone else - not looking at who that was. And since December 2020 when it was posted, the video has received more than 68000 views and over 700 comments.
Online Users Were Inspired
After posting the video to their Instagram account, the staff at Padoo were inundated with comments from their followers. People were loving the before and after video, and they were completely inspired by what Padoo had done for João.
Instagram users posted comments along the lines of: “What a wonderful action you have done. Congratulations to everyone involved. You were awesome.” And another user commented: “Amazing transformation! A fine looking gentleman.” And yet another online user said: “We all need to do our part. The Homeless are people too.”
The Story Was Also Covered by Online Publications
After gaining enough attention on Instagram, Padoo’s story about João fell into the hands of much larger online publications. These included Bored Panda, The Sun and the Daily Mail. And so the story was shared with an even wider audience. Yet again, online readers were amazed by the makeover transformation.
These readers took to the comments to express how much they loved the story. One user said: “Those barbers are such amazing people. If only everyone could do one small act, the world would be fine.” While another commented: “This is an excellent story, so never judge a book by its cover. I try to do random nice things for people when I can, and it feels good.“
His Story Caught the Attention of Someone Special
While João’s story was being seen and shared by thousands of strangers online, it was also making its way into the hands of two very special people. João actually had family members out there, who hadn’t seen the man in many years and had thought he was dead.
But then his mom and sister saw the story about the makeover, and they watched the video. They immediately realized that this was their long-lost family member. João’s story had landed in the perfect hands and his life was about to get even better.
He Was Reunited With His Sister
João’s mom and sister were so excited to see him on their screens, and they instantly got hold of the owner of Padoo - which was the only way for them to contact João. Padoo’s owner said: “[Guimarães’] sister Maria Coelho came in a hurry when she saw the pictures. She lives in Brasília DF and has been waiting for ten years to hear some news about him.”
The team at Padoo were more than happy to yet again orchestrate a magical day in the homeless man’s life. And so they helped track João down again and organized for his sister to meet with him in the salon. This was also caught on camera and shared with social media followers, and the sibling embrace and tears following seemed to touch every heart that watched.
João Chose to Keep Living on the Streets
The family reunion seemed to be just what the man needed in his life - a family with a home that he could rejoin. And João’s sister did offer for him to go back home with her. It was, after all, close to Christmas and this is the best time for families to be together. But João refused the offer.
Padoo’s owner explained: “João is still on the streets. “His sister wanted to welcome him and take him home, but he didn’t want to. He said that on the streets, he feels free. That’s why he didn’t want to go home.” Which is probably not what anyone who watched this story unfold wanted to hear. But João now has contact with his family, and from Instagram posts, it looks like Padoo is still helping him maintain that haircut.
This Homeless Man Did a Random Act of Kindness, And It Paid Off in Ways He Never Imagined
For many of us living in cities, seeing people living rough lives on the streets is simply a fact of life. We’ve become so accustomed to it that as we rush about our daily duties, homeless people can sometimes almost blend into the background of our city, as much as we don't want to admit that to ourselves. At times, we’ll stop to offer food or money, but rarely do we stop to talk to the person, or look into their eyes.
An unfortunate reality is that it's so much easier to breeze past someone in need than to think about who the person is, what circumstances led them to be in this scenario, or what struggles the person faces in trying to better their situation.
Sometimes Karma Comes to the Rescue
So often it seems like everything in life is just random, and good deeds often don't get the rewards that they deserve. Bad things happen to good people, and good things to bad, so frequently that it's easy to lose faith and believe that everything is chaos.
In fact without realizing it we even place certain stereotypes and assumptions on homeless people--judging their character based on their status--without putting thought into the circumstances beyond their control that put them there. This is something that Elmer Alvarez understands all too well, having lived on the streets of New Haven, Connecticut for years. But his story is less about homelessness and more about the power of good deeds...
Out in the Cold
Elmer Alvarez experienced a difficult few years to say the least. He had struggled with a drug habit, and ended up living on the streets of New Haven, Connecticut. Now, at 43-years-old, he was trying to turn his life around, but it wasn’t easy.
Elmer had not given up hope entirely, but the winter was fast approaching. Living on the streets was hard but the addition of subzero temperatures during a Connecticut winter would be possibly life-threatening. Little did Elmer know, his luck was about to change. One November morning, as he walked along the street, Elmer saw a tiny piece of paper that would change everything for him.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Lying on the floor near the corner of Temple and Chapel streets in New Haven was a signed check. It was on a small path, just waiting for Elmer to pick it up. And he did - but he never could have imagined what amount the check would be for.
The check had more than a few zeros on the end -- it was for $10,000! It also had a phone number written on it. Now the question was - what to do with it? Could this check represent the answer to Elmer’s prayers? Though he had no idea at the time, what he did next would change his life forever.
Given the chance, many people would use this situation to their advantage. Faced with homelessness and the prospect of freezing to death in a New England winter, many people would expect Elmer to do exactly that. A signed check seems like the perfect way out of dire straits.
But while most people would have at least toyed with the idea of cashing it in, Elmer’s decision on what to do next was clear from the start. When he picked up the lost check, his intention was to do good, and that didn’t change after he saw the amount. But he would need a little help from his friend.
Elmer didn’t have a phone, and being a native Spanish speaker his English wasn’t perfect but he didn’t want this to stop him from getting this check back to its rightful owner. He enlisted a friend on the street who had a phone and could help with translations. It was time to do some detective work and find the owner of the check.
The phone number written on the check was all the information the pair needed to get to work. It’s not often that checks have phone numbers written on them, so the fact that this check did seemed lucky. What they didn’t know at the time was that it wasn’t just luck - it was a blessing in disguise. Together, they made the call that would set Elmer’s life on a new path.
The number on the check connected them to Roberta Hoskie’s office. Roberta was the CEO and President of Outreach Realty Services and the President of her own Outreach School of Real Estate. In short, she was a big dog in the business -- and entirely self-made. They had no idea who they were speaking to, but let her know that they had found her check.
Needless to say, Roberta was surprised by the call! She didn’t even realize she had dropped a check, and here was a good Samaritan calling to return it to her. Roberta agreed to meet them to collect the check and rushed out of the office along with some friends--and her phone, of course.
Lights, Camera, Action!
As she made her way through New Haven, everything began to sink in for Roberta. Overwhelmed by the kindness of these strangers, she decided to do what many of us these days do when we feel something momentous is about to happen - she went live! Taking to Facebook, Roberta began to live blog the whole experience.
With her audience following, Roberta searched for her local heroes. All she had to go on, was that one of the guys was wearing a New York hoodie - and that was it, she didn’t even know their names! Despite this, she was confident that, when she did find them, it would be a moment worth sharing.
The First Meeting
Roberta and her friends - and her live audience! - scoured the streets in the cold, looking for the elusive New York hoodie. When they finally found the pair they were looking for it was of course Elmer Alvarez and his friend. Being a homeless man, Elmer was wary of Roberta’s reaction.
But he had nothing to be worried about. Roberta was entirely grateful, thanking Elmer profusely. And so, Elmer’s friend decided to share something that Elmer himself could not bring himself to - that he was homeless. Of all the reactions to this news, the pair never could have predicted what would happen next.
No Such Thing As Coincidence
Roberta Hoskie was preparing to share a revelation of her own. It seemed that fate had brought the two of them together, as Roberta understood more than most the unique challenges of Elmer’s situation. Roberta and the man who returned her check had more in common than they could have guessed. The self-made real estate guru had herself been homeless once.
At age 17, Roberta was financially unstable and on welfare. When she became pregnant, she dropped out of school to care for her baby, making an already difficult situation harder. She was in and out of housing shelters until she found an internship which gave her the leg up she needed to get back on track. Roberta knew that Elmer could benefit from the same kind of opportunity.
Everything Happens for a Reason
Roberta was touched by the whole experience and inspired by Elmer’s kindness and tenacity in reuniting her with her check. She was sure that none of this had happened by chance. She felt that everything had aligned to make her come full circle, face to face with the homelessness she had escaped not so long ago.
Her life was now unrecognizable compared to that. A self-made real estate expert, financially stable and providing for her family, Roberta now found herself in a position where she could give a homeless man the leg up that she had once been offered. She asked Elmer to wait while she hurried back to the office.
Light Bulb Moment
Roberta continued to live stream her experience and share her thoughts with her audience. She wanted to give Elmer a check as a thank you, but knew that this alone wasn’t enough. As she waited for her friends to bring her checkbook downstairs, she had a light bulb moment.
Drawing inspiration from a comment from one of her Facebook watchers, Roberta figured out what to do. She shared her idea with her audience, beaming “I’m going to teach him how to fish,” recalling the old adage 'if you give a man a fish he'll eat for a day, if you teach a man to fish he'll never be hungrhy'. Elmer had no idea what was in store for him.
The Start of Something New
Roberta went back to the street where Elmer had been waiting and presented him with a check. As soon as he saw that it was made out to him, Elmer burst into tears. But Roberta had more to tell him - she hugged him to calm him down and then delivered the rest of the news.
Roberta finally revealed to Elmer that she too had been homeless once. Elmer listened in disbelief as she recounted her life story, unveiling the uncanny similarities between their struggles. She shared with Elmer her belief that their coming together was no coincidence. With all this out in the open, it was time to set the wheels in motion.
A Familiar Setback
The first step was for Elmer to cash his check which, for most of us, is a simple task. But for this homeless man, reaping the reward for his act of kindness was not easy. When Elmer went to the bank, he faced the awful yet familiar discrimination that is so often directed towards the homeless.
He was automatically assumed to be a fraud - despite having a valid signed check and his license. The only reason for this was his social status. On hearing the news, Roberta was outraged - but, knowing what she had planned, she was confident that these setbacks would soon be a thing of the past for Elmer.
Stepping Into the Spotlight
Two weeks after Roberta and Elmer were brought into each other’s lives, Roberta’s live stream of the encounter had gone viral, with over 13,000 views. She arranged a meeting for the two of them and invited local news channels to come along. Some reporters even drove up from New York to be there.
Roberta and Elmer’s story had not just gained attention, it had also gained a huge amount of support in the form of generous offers. People from across the country - even as far as California and Texas - wanted to help support Elmer. And yet, as he made his way to this meeting, Elmer had no idea how things would progress from there.
Despite becoming a hugely successful businesswoman, Roberta had never taken her path from homelessness to success for granted. Experiencing this good fortune after a difficult childhood and her struggles as a single mum, Roberta was aware of her blessings and had prayed to one day be in a position to bless others.
Now, finally, things had come full circle. Roberta was in a position to bless someone who had shared similar life experiences with her. This was the opportunity to give back that she had been waiting for, and she was excited. Elmer was met with this excitement, walking into a welcoming space for the first time in so long.
The Star of the Show
He was met with a round of applause from everyone in the room. Roberta was joined by a representative of her initiative, Ms. Millionaire Mindset - a sisterhood dedicated to combating poverty - to kick off the momentous occasion. They presented Elmer with a certificate of thanks for his good deed.
This act alone generated more positivity and attention than Elmer had experienced in a long time. He was overcome with humility and gratitude as he collected his certificate at the front of the room. Standing there with so many eyes and cameras directed on him would have been new for Elmer, to say the least...but Roberta was just getting started.
Putting the Wheels in Motion
It was finally time for Roberta to announce her master plan for how to support Elmer. As she had said in her Facebook Live, she didn’t want to give the man a fish; she wanted to teach him to fish. The check alone was not enough - Roberta wanted to help him be able to sustain himself independently.
And she knew just the way to do it. Roberta granted Elmer classes at the real estate school she runs - with all costs entirely covered by her. Knowing his concerns about English, she also told him he would be able to sharpen his English skills. And she was saving the best part til last…
Home Sweet Home
Roberta had given the homeless man a reward check, and was determined to teach him how to fish - but none of this would matter much if he still had to sleep rough in the cold. Her voice trembling with emotion, Roberta told Elmer than she had found him his own place to stay. Overcome with emotion, he began to cry, as Roberta hugged him.
With the cold winter on the way, this gift was huge - no wonder it elicited tears of joy from Elmer! After years of hardship, his life was finally getting back on track. And yet, there was still more...
A Foot in the Door
The property that Roberta had secured for Elmer and his girlfriend would be covered by her for six months. But after six months, Elmer would have to sustain it on his own. And Roberta had a plan for that, too.
Elmer had only just been gifted his classes at the real estate school - and yet, Roberta had already lined up an interview for him at a real estate business for as soon as he was ready. His immediate response was: “I’m ready now!” But first, there was work to be done.
Did He Make the Grade?
Roberta had repeatedly said it was important for her to teach Elmer to fish, so she wanted to ensure that the no-formerly homeless man was making good progress. A few weeks later, she checked back in with him to see how he was doing.
It only seemed right to continue what was fast becoming a tradition and live stream their meeting. This time around it was to find out whether or not Elmer had passed the real estate exam. He had told her how hard he had been studying and now they were anxious to see if the hard work had paid off.
It had! Roberta did the honors of revealing to Elmer that he had passed the exam. Now there was only one more exam between him and the interview. He was one step closer to becoming independent and earning his own income.
If he landed the job, Elmer would soon be bringing home commission checks - just like the $10,000 commission check that he returned to Roberta. The check that started him on this whole crazy journey from homelessness on the freezing streets of New Haven to now. Finally on the right tracks, Elmer was determined to keep going. And Roberta wasn’t the only one following his progress.
The Silver Screen
In only a month and a half, so much had changed for both Elmer and Roberta. Prayers had been answered for both of them - for one, finally some light at the end of the tunnel and for the other, an opportunity to give back. Just before Christmas, the pair were invited to share their story on the Spanish language television station, Telemundo.
This time, it was Roberta who needed translation help! Despite not speaking Spanish, she was happy to join Elmer, who she now considered a friend. On the show, he recounted his life story and the events of the last few weeks, as he expected to. But the Telemundo staff were planning to go beyond just a basic interview.
Revisiting the Past
Elmer opened up to the Telemundo host and panel about his path to homelessness. His brother, who had been his rock in life, had passed away suddenly at the young age of 33 due to a heart attack.
Elmer was deeply affected by this loss, and this is where his life started to unravel. He fell into a life of crime, going on to serve five separate prison sentences, mainly for drug related crimes. Elmer had two sisters, one of whom had tried desperately to support him but with no success. He had fallen out of touch with his other sister some years before. So there’s no way he could have imagined what would happen next.
The Big Reunion
His sisters were right there on set with him! Thanks to Telemundo, Elmer was experiencing his very own Christmas miracle - and it was all live on air, broadcast to millions. How could he have ever guessed that one good deed would have this much impact on his life?
Within a couple of months, Elmer had gone from living on the streets trying to catch a break to living in his own place and studying with good career prospects - and now here he was, reunited with his long lost sisters. Could things get any better?
A Life of Good Deeds
It seemed that all this good fortune was actually repayment for a lifetime of good deeds. Though it was returning Roberta’s check that set this series of events in motion, it wasn’t the first time Elmer had returned a lost check. In fact, while living rough, he had done this same good deed many times before. The checks before had been for smaller amounts, about $500 in total. Each time, he returned the check expecting nothing in return and not getting anything in return - until now.
This time, the good deed which he had performed on so many occasions, brought him to Roberta. And now she sat by his side live on Telemundo, watching as Elmer was presented with yet another surprise.
Home for Christmas
Elmer Alvarez hadn’t seen his mother in years. But now, here she was, joining him and his sisters on stage. Moved by Elmer’s story of kindness and good deeds, Telemundo had flown them all in for a family reunion right on time for Christmas. With tears of joy and disbelief, the family reunited.
And watching the family reunion, sat between the tearful presenters, was the woman who set the wheels in motion for all of this to happen. Roberta was also emotional but so grateful that fate had brought her and Elmer together. Answering his call on that November day had brought them to where they were now - but where would it take them?
A Virtuous Cycle
Roberta’s actions since meeting Elmer had all embodied a core value of hers - the idea of paying it forward. And she was confident that once Elmer was in a position to, he too would pay it forward, creating a virtuous cycle.
She had always said she wanted to teach him how to fish, and she knew that in doing so, he would be able to bring inspiration and kindness to others in need. But did he live up to her expectations?
Elmer Gives Back
Of course he did! Elmer progressed in the real estate business Roberta introduced him to, excelling in his studies and improving his English skills. He was determined to make the most out of this amazing opportunity.
And this is what enabled him to pay it forward. He made it his mission to go to the streets to provide encouragement and inspiration for the homeless. He was a living example of the message he was sharing: do not lose hope.
Sharing Their Story
And it wasn’t just Elmer who had a message to share. Roberta made it her mission to share hers and Elmer’s story with the greater public by writing a book focused on how to break the poverty cycle.
In it, Roberta explains how she made it through her struggles by staying focused on her end goal. Landing an internship at Yale University at the age of 20 is what turned her life around and enabled her to buy a home. She was able to move past homelessness, and later help Elmer to do the same. But for so many in America, beating homelessness seems like nothing more than a distant dream.
America’s Homelessness Crisis
At the end of 2017, around the same time that Roberta Hoskie helped Elmer Alvarez out of homelessness, a disturbing statistic arose from a study released by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. America’s homeless population had grown for the first time since 2010, particularly on the West Coast.
There are so many factors that can lead to homelessness but mostly it happens when a sudden, unexpected event has a huge effect on a person’s financial situation, causing it to slip out of control. Susan Bradley, founder of the Sudden Money Institute, advises us to deal with these sudden changes responsibly by dividing expenditures into four categories; safety, fun, future, and cushion. This kind of organization can help to ease the transition out of crisis mode.
The National Coalition for the Homeless, one of the premiere NGOs fighting against homelessness in the United States, created a simple acronym to help us remember how we can support the homeless; CARE - contribute, advocate, reach out, and educate. But there are so many ways to help change lives - from simple acts of kindness to larger-scale support like what Roberta has done for Elmer.
Because of her own experiences, Roberta was in a unique position to empathize with Elmer and not to judge him. It was through this empathy and her recognition of Elmer’s good intentions that she spotted the opportunity to help him change his life - and took it! Roberta’s actions are a shining example - but they have also gained her a new friend in Elmer Alvarez.
Making a Difference
Now that Roberta has helped Elmer to change his life, he wants to help others do the same. “I feel good, I feel great and I just want to keep helping others,” he declared to Fox News. “There was a purpose behind that check like Roberta says, I believe there’s more to it.”
Roberta had hoped that Elmer would take on her ‘paying it forward’ approach, and he certainly has. “My vision is to make a difference,” he said - so let’s see exactly how he is doing that now that he’s got his feet firmly on the ground.
Hoskie truly believes that no one should judge a book by its cover, and her encounter with Alvarez solidified this message for her. Thinking back on her first meeting with Alvarez, Hoskie recalled to Fox News how she expected to find someone in a “suit and tie.” She went on to say the experience “really shattered a lot of stereotypes that people have about homeless people.”
It’s thanks to this non-judgemental approach that Alvarez was given the opportunity to help others. All he had to do was take his last real estate test — which he passed with flying colors — to start paying it forward. Soon after Alvarez received all his real estate certifications, Hoskie placed him on the Board of Directors of her real estate company and they became partners, working on a very special project together.
Elmer Alvarez has truly hit the ground running in the real estate industry. Soon after he became an agent, Roberta Hoskie helped him submit an application to make him a National Association of Realtors (NAR) member. She even supported him with one extra month of rent until he started working and could pay his own bills.
These steps have all been part of their master plan to launch a real estate-driven initiative together. Once Elmer was licensed, they could open a transitional home for homeless youths together. The inspiration for this project comes from their shared experience of financial hardships and desire to help others in the same situation. And their approach will sound somewhat familiar...
From Strangers to Partners
Alvarez has experienced first hand how just one act of kindness can snowball into something much bigger - and it all comes down to being connected with the right people. “I didn’t want to continue living the way I was,” he told several news sources, which is why he wants to help others who are in the same position as he once was and may be feeling the same way.
He now sits on the Board of Directors for Hoskie’s Outreach Foundation, a non-profit organization which helps provide affordable housing for low to moderate-income families. Through this platform, Hoskie and Alvarez want to do more than just house people - they want to offer solutions and opportunities for the homeless. Elmer praised Roberta, saying “I’ve got faith in God that she’s going to take that project to another step, you know what I mean? So that’s where we’re at”
A Home for the Homeless
The project, in the early stages of fundraising, is focused on transforming a run-down two-family New Haven property into a transitional home for 15 teens and young adults. Alvarez and Hoskie envision a place that can help the homeless in a way other shelters don’t, such as offering services to find jobs and to beat substance abuse through treatment.
The home will also offer medical services on site. “We want to provide them with substance abuse classes. We want education, employment opportunities, and church services,” Alvarez announced at a press conference. “We want it to feel like a home,” Hoskie added. But, as usual, this pair have big plans.
While the outreach program will initially aid about 15 individuals, the goal is to raise enough money to help as many people as possible through their Outreach Foundation Facebook page. “We need help in order for us to get this project to another level,” declared Alvarez.
If all goes well, the ambitious pair plan to purchase more properties, creating more transitional housing to help even more people. This is their long-term vision - and setting up and launching the first house in New Haven is where it all starts. “We’re using his experience of being in a shelter to structure the ways ours will work,” Hoskie explained.
The Best Man for the Job
There is no doubt in either Roberta or Elmer’s mind that he is the best man to run their homing project. He is proof that good things come to those who are honest, kind, and persevere — even through trying times. “Do the right things and the right things come to you, like I always say,” said Alvarez.
Alvarez now makes a point of approaching homeless people who look like they are struggling. He shares his journey with them, explaining that it wasn’t long ago that he was in their shoes, and shares his bad experiences of living in homeless shelters. Hoskie explained to news outlets that “It is his vision, that God gave him when he was in shelters that is helping us shape what we are in the process of putting together right now.”
Long before Roberta Hoskie’s story went viral, she had already dedicated her life to educating others about financial well-being and planning for the future. Then, after she met Alvarez, she decided to write a book about her life and include his story in it as well. “I will never forget, I said never forget how far God has brought me,” said Hoskie at a press conference.
Called Poverty Curse Broken: The Roberta Hoskie Story, her book shares every trial and tribulation that has led her to the success she is now as Founder and CEO of the Outreach School of Real Estate and President and CEO of Outreach Realty Services, among other achievements.
The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree
Roberta is an inspiration to many but she doesn’t have to look too far to see the effects her work has had on people’s lives. Her own son has followed in her footsteps by purchasing his own house at a young age. Though there was no live streaming this time, Roberta did take to social media to share her excitement.
Not only did Roberta’s son purchase his own home - he did it without ever having been a renter. He did this through making wise financial decisions, just as his mother teaches so many to do. It seems that, in the Hoskie family, the poverty curse truly is broken.
Hoskie continues to inspire and educate through her YouTube channel called Dr. Roberta Hoskie. She uses this social media platform as an outlet to share updates about her life, to provide helpful information, and to share financial tips and tricks.
Her videos include inspirational talks about the need for compassion, faith, and open communication after experiencing what it’s like to be poor and homeless. Roberta Hoskie truly lives her mantra of paying it forward, spreading awareness, and actively helping others help themselves. In doing this, she encourages those she helps to also continue her philosophy of paying it forward every day through acts of kindness both large and small.