Former student helps raise $27,000 for substitute teacher who had been living in his car

An ex-substitute teacher, Jose Villarruel, has been living in his vehicle for the last eight years.

Mr. V, as his pupils call him, has been filling in as a teacher for many years. Villaruel lost his job in early 2020 because of the epidemic and the subsequent reduction in his working hours caused by schools’ increased use of distance learning.


The school environment had “totally altered,” he added, leading him to conclude that his time as a substitute teacher was done. I turned in my resignation in May. As a result of my try, I can now collect my pension. When my cheque finally arrived, it was quickly depleted by my mounting bills.

Years ago, Villaruel opted to live in his vehicle since he felt he couldn’t afford to support his family in Mexico on the wages he had at the time.

A previous pupil of Villaruel’s, Steven Nava, saw him on the way to his welding job at approximately 5 a.m. The guy in the parking lot struck him as familiar, and he wondered whether he knew him. Nava finally put two and two together and recognized his old substitute instructor.


He was “devastated and disgusted,” the 21-year-old claimed of his former substitute teacher’s living conditions. Nava mentioned Villaruel as a pivotal character in his life because of the time the two spent together at school, working on Nava’s study guide and preparing for a math exam.

The way he interacted with his kids “really remained with me,” he added. He would inquire about the particulars of your day, such as whether or not you ate. When he took attendance, he was hilarious.

To assist Villaruel, Nava handed him $300 from his own funds.

He remembered that the man had thanked him with a broad grin, adding, “Thank you very much.” He walked over to embrace me, and I caught a glimpse of a tear rolling down his cheek.

Nava then promised to assist him in resolving the issue.

Later that day, he set up a GoFundMe campaign in honour of the respected professor, which quickly accumulated $5,000. He produced a Villaruel-themed TikTok video the next day, and it soon gained traction online.

After news of Villaruel circulated, the mayor of Fontana, Acquanetta Warren, and his former pupils met at the Fontana Community Senior Center to honour him. The former substitute teacher was surprised with a party and a $27,000 payment on March 11th.

It was significant since it was also his 77th birthday that day.

In fact, Villaruel said he had never even considered the possibility of acquiring such a large sum of money.

In his own words, “I had to resort to all of my self-control not to feel emotional about the entire affair and not to become frightened.” he told CNN. It was terrific, surprising, and full of excitement.

On March 10th, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office learned of Villaruel’s plight and provided him with a coupon for a local hotel. This provided him with a temporary residence for a month while more permanent accommodations were found for him.

Villaruel has stated his intention to go to Mexico in order to spend more time with his loved ones there.

“It’s a tremendous feeling to have this change, and I still have to adjust to it so that I can make the most of it,” he remarked.

It caught me by surprise, but I’m eager to embrace whatever lies ahead. When the time is right, I know beautiful things will happen.