Kenia Barragan was out running errands in July when she happened across a stranger selling tamales on the street. Realizing he was struggling, she gave him some cash — not for a tamale but for him. That’s when the two of them started talking.
She soon learned that Jose Villa Ochoa, who goes by Joel, was 94 years old and unable to get a steady job because of his age. With no other options, he was selling tamales on the street for someone who paid him at the end of each day. Moved by his story, Kenia set out to help him get back on his feet!
“He can barely afford to buy his coffee and bread in the morning to eat, and doesn’t have money to pay for a phone, let alone his medication,” the 28-year-old wrote on Instagram.
She gave him some food and $50 that someone had donated to him and caught his emotional reaction on video. Then she made it her mission to do whatever she could to make his situation better!
“I felt for him,” she explained. “My parents are older, and I would hate to see my dad out selling tamales for somebody and barely making ends meet.”
So she set up a GoFundMe, and the donations came rolling in! Their community couldn’t help being touched by Joel’s circumstances.
As the word spread, support started appearing in other forms. In fact, Joel was gifted a new wheelchair that is in significantly better shape than the ripped one he had been using.
And that wasn’t the end of it! Thanks to the kindness of complete strangers, Kenia was able to collect more than $85,000 for him! In a GoFundMe update, she explained that she worked directly with his daughter to transfer the money to him. They will be using it for a “power wheelchair, burial services, tombstone, casket (in case anything [were] to happen to him), clothes, dental work, and full medical checkup and medications.”
All of this goodness happened because Kenia took a few moments out of her day to say hello to a neighbor. What an amazing reminder to look out for each other!
Watch the video below to hear how Joel is doing, and remember to share this sweet story with your friends.
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