When neighbors Melissa and Jenn were out shopping one day, they came across an elderly woman living in a car with two dogs. By reaching out and uniting their Pennsylvania community, they were able to change this woman’s life in a matter of hours.
Upon approaching the car to ask if she was okay, they discovered Lynn, a retired pharmacist and longtime member of their community who insisted she was fine despite spending the past two years living out of her car due to family losses and piling medical bills. Although they did not know her, Melissa and Jenn were determined to hear Lynn’s story and help her get back on her feet.
Lynn’s life took a turn when her husband passed away suddenly at just 47-years-old, leaving her with no family beyond her two dogs. Later, Lynn suffered a series of strokes along with breast cancer rendering her disabled and unable to work. Lynn had to downsize to a small apartment in order to afford her medical expenses, but soon fell behind on payments and was left without a home.
While evaluating her options, Lynn found out that she did not qualify for additional assistance and could not find affordable housing. Homeless shelters were not an option as she could not bear to part with her dogs. With no alternatives, Lynn and her two dogs moved into her car with a few remaining belongings. Once the dogs were fed and she had saved enough money, she would take a monthly shower at a local motel and drive around to avoid running into past neighbors and colleagues. “I didn’t want to have to explain to people that I don’t have a home. You feel like somewhere you had to have failed. You accomplished all this but now here you are in the gutter and you don’t want people to know. You don’t want to ask for help,” Lynn shared with WBUR.
Despite her efforts to remain out of sight over the years, Lynn was running out of food and water and decided to accept Melissa and Jenn’s help. The neighbors posted her story on Nextdoor and called on their community to help. The post gathered hundreds of supportive comments and some neighbors even shared that they, too, were once homeless. Kind neighbors brought Lynn homemade meals, pet food, and clean laundry while local businesses generously donated services such as car detailing, a haircut, and dog grooming. Eventually, the community raised enough money to house Lynn and her dogs in a fully-furnished studio apartment that had been paid off for the next two years. Melissa and Jenn surprised Lynn with the apartment in a heartwarming video sharing that, “It was unbelievable the way our community came together.”
Lynn was brought to tears as she thanked her neighbors. She told ABC News, “It wouldn’t have happened without these angels. I just want people to realize that this can happen to anybody. I had a good job. I had good retirement but I got sick and health insurance only covers so much. I have no children. I have no family. I had nowhere to turn. Sometimes, just the kindness of strangers just makes all the difference in someone’s life.”
For the first time in years, Lynn now has a home for the holidays, supportive neighbors that stop by to drop off meals or walk the dogs, and loving friends to spend Thanksgiving with.
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