I am completely and utterly convinced that individuals are placed in our lives to guide us in times of need. Upon my anxious arrival back to school in Phoenix, I was feeling broken, unmotivated, and stressed. As many of you know, Can You Spare A Story (CYSS) sells merchandise in order to raise the funds we use on projects. We give 100% of proceeds back to serving but we also just recently launched a buy-one-give-one program. When you buy one of our shirts, we give one back to someone in need. So, I have Alyssa Rikimaru to thank for meeting Jerry. Thank you Alyssa.. for shopping to serve and introducing me to this sweet man.

Jerry is the epitome of a hardworking American man, he gives everything he can yet expects nothing in return.  From the time Jerry could walk, he worked alongside his father at a car shop right here in Arizona. Once he was old enough, he joined the Navy, where he fought for our freedom for 12 years of his life. During this time, he met the love of his life, Sue, who he has now been married to for 38 years. When Jerry came home from the Navy, he returned back to work in the car industry for 24 more years absolutely loving every second of it. Sadly, right before his 25-year-mark in the industry, Jerry was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma and was unable to work.

Squamous cell carcinoma is a form of skin cancer which is described as an uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells on the skin’s outer layer. The painful recovery left Jerry out of work with 126 staples in the left side of his face. He was faced needing physical therapy to re-learn how to use the left side of his body once again. At this time, he was living in Surprise, Arizona in a home he loved, never imagining he would have to lose it.

This is the part of these stories that always breaks me. I wish I could go back in time and help Jerry before any of this ever happened. With a hefty mortgage, car payment, and medical bills on his plate, Jerry and Sue were forced to live in their car just trying to make it by. Jerry never imagined this would happen to him as many people do. His pride left him feeling guilty to ask for help from the Veteran’s Association (VA) or anyone else. Jerry took to the streets, having to pan-handle in order just to make it by. He told me stories of feeling humiliated after people stared at him or even laughed and make comments about him.

To those people, Jerry is human. Jerry is an American war hero simply trying to provide for those he loves. Do not ever judge Jerry or anyone else for being forced into this situation. If the tables were turned, would you enjoy being abused by strangers? I hope this story provides you with some insight that you should get to know people before you label them.

Back to the story, (sorry yes.. I do still get angry when people judge with no information.)

Until recently, Jerry has not reached out to the Veteran’s Association (VA). Through many thoughts and prayers, Jerry and Sue were provided with an apartment for the next year until they get back on their feet. It is such an amazing opportunity! They also provided him with medical support and he is still looking at getting medical coverage for his wife. Although Jerry received housing, he was still lacking a lot of basic essentials when we met him. Thankfully with all of your generous donations and purchases of the Can You Spare A Story merchandise, we were able to take Jerry shopping for their new place. On Sunday, September 2nd, my boyfriend Nico and I took Jerry to Walmart to purchase everything he needed. We got everything from bath mats and towels to tons of food and we actually got to document it all! We’ll have another video on our Can You Spare A Story YouTube channel uploaded later this week!

With $150, we tried our best to make a house feel like a home. Jerry is currently applying and interviewing for jobs in Phoenix. He has experience with automobiles, painting, and handy work. He is looking for a full-time position and is willing to do anything. If you or someone you know has an opportunity for work in the Phoenix valley, please reach out to me and I will get you in contact with Jerry.

From the time I have spent with Jerry, I have found a friendship like no other. Jerry is passionate about life and finds happiness in the small things. He has so much love for the Lord and never gives up faith in His ability to provide. He even expressed interest in becoming a pastor someday. I am so inspired by Jerry and Sue’s love for one another, no matter the situation they do life together with love and passion. I hope Nico loves me the way Jerry loves Sue in 38 years.

Jerry, thank you for reminding me to have faith in the world around me. I hope I can be a lifelong friend.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

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