In Your Community

People Helping People: Offering shelter

Monday, June 08, 2009

One family has been hit by unemployment and was about to lose their home. But unexpectedly, a Good Samaritan stepped forward.

Earlier this year, Kevin Gartner lost his job. He and his family were about to become homeless.

"We had scraped enough money to stay at a Motel 6 for up until Friday at noon," said Tina Gartner. "We had to be out at noon. We didn't know where we were going, what we were doing.

That's when 90-year-old Fred Johnson came into the picture.

The Gartners and Fred Johnson had been attending First Lutheran Church in Camarillo for years, but had never met. They were eventually introduced one Sunday by their pastor.

The next day, the Gartners and their son moved into a spare room in Johnson's home.

"He has been -- I'll just bottom line it, our angel," said Kevin Gartner.

"To wake up the next morning in a home knowing that I had a bed to sleep in and my son -- the words were when he woke up the next morning was, 'Is this my home?'" said Tina.

Fred lost his wife three years ago. The World War II veteran was happy to welcome the family.

"They were a nice couple, that was enough," said Fred. "I didn't know them before, but they really fit in. They came in like they belong here."

But the job search for Kevin has been tough. He's been on nearly 100 interviews but has had no luck.

"We can't even get a job at Taco Bell," said Kevin. "There was a stack of 35 applicants before us."

Johnson says the Gartners can stay as long as they want, just as long as he and his new friend, 4-year-old Kevin Jr., can continue to watch their favorite TV show together.

"Wheel - of - Fortune!" said Kevin Jr.

"They can take care of me, I've been taking care of them," said Fred.

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