The Chicago Tribune's Labor Day story on how a well read, highly regarded substitute teacher in Skokie became homeless may have a silver lining. Henry Wolfson, 66, has been a substitute teacher at McCracken Middle School for 19 years.
Wolfson told the Tribune that medical expenses were a big reason why he's now living at a shelter. In light of the story, several of Wolfson's former students have created a fundraiser on GiveForward.com, a website designed to help people overburdened with medical expenses.
The former students, Adam Youhanna, Christina Audisho and Anita Zaia have left a message on the page:
Let's help the best substitute we've ever had move out of a homeless shelter and into a place he can call home! Please show your support!
The group's goal is to raise $20,000 for their former teacher. At time of publication, more than $8,200 has been raised, with the top donor giving out $300. The idea to help Wolfson through GiveForward started with a text message from Zaia to Audisho asking what they could do to help.
"As soon as I saw [the Tribune story] I sent a picture message to Anita. Right away, we knew we had to do something to help Mr. Wolfson get out of this horrible situation. Within 24 hours, we raised thousands of dollars," said Audisho, 18, who had Wolfson as a teacher at McCracken Middle School. "Adam contacted Mr. Wolfson to let him know what we're doing for him and he was absolutely speechless."
Zaia said the fundraiser's initial goal was $5,000.
"We changed [the goal] to $10,000 since people were donating so much, so fast," said Zaia, 26, who had Wolfson all four years at Niles North High School. "Then I received a text from Adam saying, 'Up the goal?'"
By the next morning, the goal had been raised to $20,000, Zaia said. When asked why the three are doing this, Zaia replied, "Why not? We know we can raise that much and God willing, even more! That's the least Mr. Wolfson deserves.
"All of his students are now looking after him like how he looked out for us," Zaia added. "We're a family and we want Mr. Wolfson to live in a home without worrying about money."
Meanwhile, Youhanna was able to get in touch with his former teacher after calling McCracken's administrative office, who informed him that Wolfson was currently subbing at the school.
"He remembered me right away," Youhanna said. "I told him about [the fundraiser] and he was in awe. He was speechless. He probably didn't think that many people were thinking about him.
"He's a very nice, smart man," Youhanna added. "He is very caring and dedicated to what he does. He is a very genuine man. He just wants to come in and do his job, teach the students. And he does it to the best of his ability."
To read the Tribune's (touching) story, click here.
To help donate to Mr. Wolfson's cause, click here.
If you have any pictures of Mr. Wolfson please send me a note at email@example.com. Thanks!