After A Homeless Man Returned $10,000, The Thoughtful Act Set His Life On An Entirely New Path

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When Elmer Alvarez came across a check for $10,000, he did everything in his power to return it. And the rightful owner was amazed by his good deed after discovering that he was homeless. But what he couldn’t have predicted was that his act of kindness would end up changing his life forever.

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In 2017 Alvarez was living rough on Connecticut’s New Haven streets. The state has a population of over three million and 130,000 people reside in the city. And of that number, approximately 4,000 are currently either homeless or under the threat of losing their homes, according to the Point In Time Count in 2016.

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CBS News claims that Alvarez had experience with crime and mental health problems. The homeless man also had past struggles with addiction, but managed to get sober and was determined to improve his life once and for all. And what he didn’t realize was that a chance encounter would send him in an entirely new direction.

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One day in November 2017, Alvarez was walking down a busy street in the city of New Haven. That’s when he saw something on the ground close to Chapel Street and Temple Street. “I’ll never forget that day. [It was] right over here,” he told CBS On The Road reporter, Steve Hartman, in January 2019.

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Alvarez picked up an envelope on the pavement. And when he opened it and examined the contents, he must have seen that there was something extremely valuable inside. It turned out that he had come across a check that someone had dropped there by accident – and it was for no small amount.

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The check that the homeless man found was made out for $10,000. And Alvarez admitted that in all his years, he had never come across anything quite like it. In fact, when Hartman asked him if he had “seen that many zeroes” ever, he laughed and responded, “No, not really.”

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Of course, $10,000 is no small amount of money – especially for somebody who does not have a home. And, perhaps, there are those, that, having found themselves in homeless man’s position, would have attempted to pass off the check as their own. But for Alvarez, that was never an option.

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“The first thing that came through my mind was I’ve got to look for this person,” Alvarez told CBS On The Road. And he didn’t so much as think about trying to steal the money. “It never crossed my mind, because I made a decision to turn my life over,” he then added.

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Image: Facebook/Roberta Hoskie

Indeed, Alvarez was already heading on the right path at the time and he wanted to continue with that. “I’ve been clean for three years,” he said in January 2019. So he set about trying to track down the person the check was made out to – and that’s how he met Roberta Hoskie.

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Image: Facebook/Roberta Hoskie

Hoskie is a successful real estate broker and businesswoman. She owns and runs both Outreach Realty Services and Outreach School of Real Estate. The realtor studied office administration at Gateway Community and Technical College and obtained an associate degree. And in 2015, she was named Person of the Year by the local New Haven Register.

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With some help from a friend, Alvarez looked up Hoskie online. The pair were then able to find a telephone number for her company and contacted the realtor to let her know that they had located her check. And she had not even noticed that it was missing until they got in touch.

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Image: Facebook/Roberta Hoskie

Hoskie then went to meet Alvarez and his pal. And she decided that she would record a live Facebook video to capture the exchange. The real estate broker explained that the man she was about to meet was living proof that kindhearted people still exist. But she was in for a shock when she got there.

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“I don’t care what you say. There are so many really good people in this world,” Hoskie says at the start of the video. “I don’t know who this guy is. But I dropped my check and he called – I didn’t even know I dropped this check – and he called me.” From there, the realtor finally went looking for Alvarez.

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Image: Facebook/Roberta Hoskie

Once Hoskie found the two men, Alvarez’s friend explained that he had helped out because he spoke better English than his pal. The realtor was obviously thrilled to be reunited with her check and grateful for their honesty. However, she was clearly not expecting to hear that her hero was homeless.

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“I expected to find a guy all nice, cleanly shaved, in a blue suit like you,” Hoskie told Hartman. So when she found out that Alvarez was sleeping rough, she was blown away. The realtor then explained that this act of goodwill “shattered the stereotypes” that can be associated with homeless people.

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Right away, Hoskie knew that she wanted to give back to Alvarez in some way. So, she decided to write him a check of his own. When she presented him with it, the homeless man began to cry. It’s easy to see that he was humble. But the realtor explained that she was the one full of gratitude.

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Image: Facebook/Roberta Hoskie

“You have no idea what that meant. You did the right thing,” Hoskie then told Alvarez. And she assured him that he would not be homeless forever. “I don’t know who you are and I don’t care what your situation is,” she added. “God has His hand over all of your life and whatever you’re going through is temporary.”

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That’s when Hoskie dropped a bombshell that caused Alvarez to break down in tears once more. She revealed that she understood his situation – because she had once been in it herself. That’s right, the successful real estate broker used to be homeless and lived at New Haven’s Douglas House Shelter.

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Hoskie became pregnant when she was 17 years old and dropped out of high school. She was sleeping rough and living on welfare benefits but was able to turn her life around. Today, she owns a multi-million dollar business and that’s why she wanted to help Alvarez get a fresh start.

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“To come from a place of being homeless to owning multiple companies, I represent something different,” Hoskie told the New Haven Register in November 2017. And she is not ashamed of her background. She added to NBC News, “I have been very transparent with my story from poverty to prosperity, from welfare to wealth, from homeless to owning homes.”

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Before Hoskie ended her live video on Facebook, she revealed that she wasn’t just giving Alvarez money to help him out. The realtor also informed the homeless man that she runs a school teaching people how to become real estate agents. And she offered him free classes so that he could go on to make his own living.

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It was an incredible gesture from Hoskie. And Alvarez explained that he is all about paying it forward. “First of all, I believe in God. My faith is what keeps me going through,” he told the New Haven Register. “I always believe that once you do right, right always comes back to you. Because God don’t like ugly.”

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And Alvarez never expected just how far Hoskie would go to show him her gratitude. He was quick to point out that he wasn’t thinking about a reward when he tracked down the rightful owner of the check. “I returned it from the bottom of my heart,” he told WTNH, a local news station, in November 2017. “Not expecting nothing in return.”

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Hoskie promised to do everything she could to help Alvarez get back on his feet. As well as the real estate classes, he was offered English language lessons and career advice sessions. And she also assured him that she would get him off the streets right away. How? By paying six months rent for him.

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“This winter you don’t have to worry about being in the cold. We have housing for you,” Hoskie told Alvarez. And he vowed to take the opportunity seriously. “I’m ready,” he said to WTNH. “She’s given me the push. I’m going to go for it and I’m going to take it from there.”

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Hoskie revealed that Alvarez had some trouble cashing his check at first. This was down to the bank he went to making assumptions about him. But their story is proof that being homeless doesn’t make you a bad person. “I know it sounds so cliché, but you cannot judge a book by its cover,” she told the New Haven Register. “There needs to be more people like [Alvarez].”

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It didn’t take long for Hoskie’s live Facebook video to go viral. In fact, it’s now been viewed more than 84,000 times. People around the country shared their support for Alvarez and praised him for returning the realtor’s check. It was a touching story that captured hearts – but it didn’t end there.

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One year later, Alvarez and Hoskie were in the news again. And it turns out that his good deed set the homeless man’s life on a completely different path. Not only was he no longer sleeping rough, but he was also working with the realtor on a project they were both extremely passionate about.

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After taking classes at Hoskie’s school, she started helping Alvarez to obtain the qualifications he needs to work in real estate. In November 2018, he was waiting to take the last exam to become a fully-fledged real estate agent. And in the meantime, the businesswoman gave him a job by placing him on her company’s Board of Directors.

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Alvarez is also on track to become a member of the National Association of Realtors. Having put homelessness behind him, it seems that he has a bright future ahead as far as his career is concerned. And the real estate student has been working closely with Hoskie in the year since they met.

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In fact, Hoskie and Alvarez hosted a press conference in November 2018, where they announced some big plans. “Together, we are working to create opportunities and solutions for people who are facing homelessness right now,” the businesswoman said. And they revealed that the pair are renovating a property in New Haven for a very special reason.

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The building is, in fact, going to be remodeled and transformed into housing. It will act as a transitional home for a total of 15 young people and teenagers. Alvarez explained that he wants the space to not only provide a roof over their heads, but also give them the tools they need to change their lives – just as he did.

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Alvarez hopes the transitional housing will also offer residents career advice and help them to seek out job opportunities, as well as giving treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. He will not make any money from the venture, but that’s not a priority for him. “I want to make a difference,” he explained during the press conference.

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Homelessness is clearly a cause close to both Hoskie and Alvarez’s hearts, as each has experienced that situation themselves. “I know what it is to be homeless,” he told On The Road. “Nobody deserves to live like that.” Hoskie agreed, “I remember what it felt like to be in that shelter.”

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For Hoskie, Alvarez is the perfect person to help create the home because of his own experience. “Having lived in a homeless shelter, he saw many things that could use improvement,” she told real estate news site Inman in November 2018. “We’re using his experience of being in a shelter to structure the ways ours will work.”

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Alvarez hopes that a lot of young people will be helped through the project. “That’s what I want to do,” he explained to CBS. And he still can’t quite seem to believe just how much his life has changed because of a check that he found on the street. “It’s amazing,” he added.

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At first, Hoskie and Alvarez intend to focus on creating one transitional house for young rough sleepers. But they have big ambitions and believe this will stand as the first of several similar properties to help homeless youth. “We want it to feel like a home,” the businesswoman told Inman.

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Hoskie is now devoted to doing her part to erase homelessness. In fact, she is currently working on a book called Poverty Curse Broken: The Roberta Hoskie Story that will advise people on how to improve their lives for good. The book will be about her own journey from life without a home to a prosperous career in real estate.

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“I was in a teenage homeless shelter, I came from poverty, I’ve been on welfare,” Hoskie then explained to Inman. “I have to give back to those who are battling things that I overcame.” It’s clear that Alvarez isn’t the only one whose life was changed by a lost and found check.

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For Alvarez, his world has entirely turned around in the space of just one year. In fact, he and Hoskie both believe that their chance encounter was meant to be. “I feel good, I feel great and I just want to keep helping others,” Alvarez said at the press conference. “There was a purpose behind that check like [Hoskie] says, I believe there’s more to it.”

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