Community Rallies To Get Homeless Woman Off The Streets
They raised over $30,000 to help a woman they barely knew.
It's easy to think the terrible things you see happening to others won't happen to you. That was certainly the case for Lynn Shutzman, a retired pharmacist in King of Prussia, PA.
Lynn (pictured below) worked for 43 years as a pharmacist and was a respected mentor in her field. She had a decent retirement fund, but after her husband died she was diagnosed with several serious illnesses that forced her to spend all of her savings.
After suffering through strokes, breast cancer, thyroid problems and kidney failure, Lynn could no longer afford her medical bills, so she became homeless. For the past two years she's been living in her Mercedes Benz SUV with her two dogs, Chaucer and Chase. Unfortunately, Lynn didn't qualify for affordable housing and since homeless shelters don't allow dogs, she didn't find any help there.
Lynn had no relatives in the area, and because of the shame and embarrassment she felt from being homeless, she never told her doctors or anyone around her what had happened to her. While most of the little money that Lynn had went to keeping herself and her dogs fed, she would save up to spend one night per month in a hotel so that she could shower.
In April, Melissa Akacha noticed a woman was living in her car in their neighborhood. After telling her neighbor, Jennifer Husband-Elsier, the two women found out who she was and turned to the community for help. They paid for Lynn to stay in a hotel and began raising money through a GoFundMe page for an apartment for her and other necessities.
"We need to help this woman," they wrote on the GoFundMe page. "No one should ever have to live the way she is living."
A little over a week later, they had raised enough money to move Lynn and her dogs into a studio apartment. Volunteers and neighbors worked ahead of time to paint the place and furnish it with items donated by people in the community.
A neighbor captured a video of Lynn seeing her home for the first time, and it was as emotional as you can imagine.
"It was unbelievable the way our community came together," Jennifer told ABCNews . "We just asked [Schutzman] if she was OK. Really, it's the community who made the big impact."
Last week, the GoFundMe page had earned enough money to pay Lynn's rent for the next two years. While her basic needs have been met, Melissa and Jennifer are still urging people to contribute to help with the woman's remaining medical bills.
In a follow-up story by ABC News , an overwhelmed Lynn thanked her "angels" and reminded people to be kind to everyone they meet, regardless of their status.
"It wouldn't have happened without these angels," Lynn said. "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, you know, just the kindness of strangers just makes all the difference in someone's life."
You can contribute to Lynn's GoFundMe page by clicking here.
If you're inspired by the actions of this community, why not start your own fundraiser or donation collection for those in need? Contacting a homeless shelter in your community and finding out what items they need most is a good place to start. Social media makes it easy to rally the troops and spread the word once you have a plan in place.
Let's #StartSomethingGood together.