When friends Jennifer Husband-Elsier and Melissa Akacha encountered a woman living out of her car in the Target parking lot in Philadelphia, they knew they needed to help.
The woman had two dogs with her, and she looked like she was living rough, but when then the women asked if she needed anything, she said she was fine.
The woman was Lynn Schutzman. While she kept insisting she was fine, Jennifer and Melissa knew she wasn’t. The two women wanted to help, so they used Nextdoor – a social media site for neighbors. They created a post inquiring if anyone knew anything about the “elderly woman with her two dogs.” Luckily, they got some answers.
The two women quickly learned that Lynn was a 70-year-old pharmacist who had lived a pretty decent life until recently. She had lost her husband and had begun suffering from multiple illnesses. The medical bills quickly piled up and became overwhelming to the point that she couldn’t afford to pay rent anymore.
Since Lynn had no children or other family members to rely on, she found herself homeless despite having led a stable life with a decent income.
As Lynn herself said, “I just want people to realize that this can happen to anybody. I had a good retirement, but I got sick and health insurance only covers so much.”
Having no place to live, Lynn had no choice but to pack up her dogs and belongings and live out of her SUV. She and her dogs called the SUV home for two years. Unfortunately for Lynn, she didn’t qualify for affordable housing, and since homeless shelters didn’t allow pets, she was unwilling to part with her dogs and figured her car was her best option.
Melissa, who is also a pharmacist, asked around and discovered that Lynn was a respected mentor in her field. While Lynn had put on a brave face for two years, in reality, she really needed help. That is when Jennifer and Melissa decided to put Lynn and her dogs up in a hotel room until they could figure something out.
Once word got out about Lynn, the community quickly rallied around her, bring her food, blankets, and items for her dogs. Many kind neighbors even walked her dogs for her on occasion. While Jennifer and Melissa knew this was a great start, they also felt that something else needed to be done.
That is when they started a GoFundMe page for Lynn. They raised more than $30,000 – enough to purchase the woman a nice studio apartment for her and her dogs.
The first two years at the apartment are already paid for, and Lynn couldn’t be more grateful – amazed and humbled by all the people who helped to give her a new place.
It is amazing what a little kindness can do for someone.