DEWITT, Mich. — Last month, a Taco Bell customer in Michigan says his curiosity got the best of him, so he asked an employee a question. He says her answer changed both of their lives.
During one of his lunch visits to the Dewitt restaurant, Dave Schmitt says he noticed a truck and a camper parked in the parking lot. Schmitt says he had seen it for the past several days, so he asked the drive-through attendant about it.
"I said, 'What's the story with this truck and camper that are out there?' And the drive-through attendant said, 'Well, that's where me and my son live.' And that's how I came to meet Miss Margie," said Schmitt.
Miss Margie, otherwise known as Margie Wolfe, says she had lived in the camper since July, along with her son and their three dogs.
Wolfe recounted: "When I told him that I lived there, he said, 'OK. I didn't realize you are homeless.' I said, 'It's hard. I've been homeless since February of this year because of the COVID. I couldn't get my rent paid up in time and could not stay where I was. So that's when I end up in the camper.'"
Schmitt says he immediately wanted to help Wolfe.
"You just can't help but know that you're in the right place at the right time. And I did really feel like there was a reason I struck up that conversation and got to know about her. Immediately, I just started doing what I could to help her," said Schmitt.
Wolfe said being homeless had not been easy.
"The hardest part of being homeless is not being able to cook a fresh meal for your family. It's hard to take a bath. It's hard not to sleep in an inflatable bed. It's hard, but Dave has come a long way and helped me out a lot."
Schmitt says hearing Wolfe's story spurred him into action.
He began visiting the restaurant as often as possible to give Wolfe whatever extra money he had.
Within a few months, Wolfe told Schmitt she'd saved up enough money to get her own apartment. In October, she moved into her new place, and again Schmitt says he knew he could do more. So, he went to work helping her furnish it.
"I had messaged her and said, 'I have a bed. Could you use a bed?' Absolutely she could. Other friends, family, and coworkers were aware of what was going on back then and started offering stuff as well. I'd send her a message saying, 'Hey, do you need a lazy boy, kitchen stuff, and bath stuff? And quickly, we were putting stuff together," said Schmitt.
In talking to Schmitt, we learned this isn't the first time he's stepped up to be a good neighbor.
In 2018, he raised money to help Jessica Ford, who was a waitress at Deluca's Pizza. At the time, she had to skip a lot of her shifts to take care of her mom, who had terminal cancer.
Ford says Schmitt is an unsung hero.
"I was focusing on spending time with my mom and getting what she needed. He was great. I always loved waiting on Dave. Every time he came in, he would anonymously pay for another table's meal. I always love that about him!"
Ford says she isn't surprised Schmitt stepped up to help Wolfe. She says Schmitt is a perfect example of a good neighbor.
Wolfe says she couldn't agree more!
Schmitt is still working hard to help Wolfe, who is currently walking to work because her truck needs new brakes.
Schmitt is raising money to buy her new ones.
If you would like to help Schmitt in his ongoing mission to be a great neighbor, you can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was originally published by Bob Hoffman and Adam Fakult at WSYM.