Too often, there are awful stories in the media covering acts of violence and the despicable way that humans can treat each other and animals. Fortunately, these stories are counterbalanced by acts of human kindness. One amazing story of human kindness was featured in I Heart Dogs and describes how neighbors bought an apartment for a homeless woman and her dogs. Melissa Akacha and Jennifer Husband-Elsier are two friends who live in Philadelphia. One day, they were walking through the parking lot at their local Target when they realized that a woman was living in her car. The woman who was not alone as she also had her two dogs living with her in her car on the Target parking lot. Jennifer and Melissa immediately decided to check if the woman was okay and to asked her if she needed anything.
They learned that the woman’s name was Lynn Schutzman, and although she told the two women that she was fine, they realized that this was not the case. On returning to their homes, Melissa and Jennifer realized that they needed to do something to help Lynn. Their first step was to try and find out if anyone knew anything about Lynn and her circumstances. They decided to reach out using social media and posted on Nextdoor, which is a site that connects people living in the same neighborhoods.
The post asked if anyone knew about the elderly lady and her two dogs who were living in the parking lot. Thankfully, the post garnered enough information from people in the area for Melissa and Jennifer to offer some help to the homeless lady. The information revealed a rather shocking story that showed how people’s lives can take a sudden and dramatic downturn. Until shortly before Melissa and Jennifer saw Lynn in the parking lot, the 70-year-old pharmacist had enjoyed a great life. Safely, her husband had passed away and then she suffered multiple illnesses herself.
This put Lynn in a terrible situation. The cost of her medical bills was mounting, and this led to her struggling to afford her rent. Lynn’s situation was made worse as she has no children or other family members to whom she could turn to help her out in her time of need. Until that point, Lynn had a good income and a happy life, but everything began to spiral out of control. This set of unfortunate circumstances led to a terrible situation where Lynn became homeless.
Lynn was left with no other option than to move into her car. She took as many of her belongings as she could manage and also took along her two beloved dogs. Eventually, Lynn lived in her SUV with her dogs for two years. The situation went on for so long for two reasons. First, Lynn was not eligible for affordable housing. Second, the homeless shelters in the local area would not allow her to take her dogs with her. Parting with them was too much for Lynn to bear after everything else that had happened. Her life had gone downhill fast enough without losing her beloved furry friends, too. This meant that the only option remaining to her was to sleep in her SUV with the dogs.
Melissa felt a connection to Lynn’s story because she is also a pharmacist. She asked around in the local area, and her investigation revealed that in the field of pharmacy, Lynn was a well-known woman and a respected mentor. Throughout the two years that Lynn had been homeless, she had tried to put on a brave face, and she had been too proud to ask for help. However, she needed someone to step in and help her get out of what seemed like an impossible situation. Thankfully, she had two people who were willing to help her.
As a temporary solution to the problem, Melissa and Jennifer decided to book Lynn a hotel room where she could stay with her dogs, and they were willing to pay the bill. This would give Lynn somewhere warm to sleep and access to a bathroom until they could work out a way of helping her in the long-term. Melissa and Jennifer were not alone in wanting to help Lynn. As soon as her story spread around the local community, more people came forward who were willing to help her out in any way possible. While some people took her meals, others brought food for her dogs. People also helped out by walking the dogs and bringing Lynn blankets. Although this was a fantastic start to improving Lynn’s life, Jennifer and Melissa still wanted to do more.
They came up with the idea of starting a GoFundMe page to raise money to pay for somewhere for Lynn to stay. They did much better than expected and raised a staggering $30,000. This gave them enough money to pay for two years of rent in advance for a nice studio apartment. This meant that Lynn would never need to worry about not having enough money for rent for the foreseeable future, and this should help her get back on her feet. Now, Lynn has moved into the apartment and her life is happy once again. She has a roof over her head and somewhere to share with her dogs. She has made her apartment more homely by adding some personal touches and adorning the apartment with the gifts that people have given her.
Lynn has told ABC News that she hopes her story shows people that homelessness is a situation that can happen to anyone. Despite having a good retirement fund and health insurance, it simply did not cover all the costs when she got sick. Lynn also hopes that her story will show the difference that people can make to someone else’s life by showing a little kindness. Without the kindness of people in the community, Lynn would still be living in her car.