What would you do if you found a check for $10,000? It was signed, dated, and ready to cash—all you needed to do was walk into a bank and claim your prize. How many everyday, average-Joe-types do you think would try and track down the rightful owner?
Add in an element of complete desperation and poverty. Let’s say you didn’t know where your next meal was coming from, and you found a check for $10,000—how many of you would return it? It’s no stretch to assume that most would be wrist deep in a surf-and-turf dinner, among other luxuries.
But not Elmer Alvarez. While Alvarez was walking in downtown New Haven, Connecticut, he did indeed find a check in a white envelope for $10,000.
Rather than cash the $10,000 check and spend it himself, Alvarez tracked the owner down and returned it. The most incredible part of his honest deed? He’s homeless.
Alvarez says he didn’t even consider keeping the money for himself.
“I was just thinking about how that person was feeling,” Alvarez told WTNH News 8. “I would be feeling kinda desperate.”
But tracking down the rightful owner of the check proved to be a challenge. Alvarez had a friend help him to look up the name of the business on the check, call customer service, and go through their hoops before finally getting to speak to the right person. He was on the line with business owner Roberta Hoskie before she’d even realized she’d lost it.
Hoskie dropped the check earlier that day, and was unknowingly going about her day when her phone rang. It was her assistant with a very important phone call.
Hoskie couldn’t believe how lucky she was to have someone so honest find her check.
Hoskie was delighted Alvarez had found the check. She went to meet him and streamed the exchange on Facebook Live. She was shocked when she learned Alvarez was homeless.
Hoskie and Alvarez were both moved to tears. At several points throughout their exchange, they each dab their eyes with napkins and can be heard sniffling.
“I don’t even know who you are, but I thank God for you,” Hoskins said.
She asked Alvarez if he was currently working or in school, to which he initially failed to reply. “I’m just trying to get my life back together,” he said after a long pause.
“I can help you,” Hoskie replied.
Fortunately for Alvarez, Hoskie is in a position to help him in a major way. Not only is she the President a Connecticut-based real estate agency called Outreach Realty Servicing, she is also the founder and CEO of a realty school.
In addition to writing Alvarez a check of his own, she’s offered him a tuition-free education at her realty school, pledged to find him housing, and to find him a job so that he can support himself while he gets his education.
“I’m going to teach you to fish,” Hoskie said.
Hoskie offered Alvarez full-ride scholarship to attend her real estate school where he will learn how to earn commission checks like the one he found.
Alvarez was surprised by how appreciative Hoskie was. He expected nothing in return, and was only doing what he thought was right.
“Seeing her happy, you know? Seeing her appreciating it. It made me feel good!” he told WTHN News.
But what he didn’t know is that Hoskie’s desire to help him came from a much deeper place.
Earlier in her life, the now successful real estate entrepreneur was homeless on the street. Hoskie says she was once pregnant, terrified, and on welfare at 17 years old.
“If you can see past your situations, you can get out of them,” Hoskie said.
“Whatever you’re going through, it’s temporary. You continue to do the right things,” she told Alvarez.
“There need to be more people like Elmer Alvarez.”
Hoskie hopes that Alvarez will one day be in a position where he can help a homeless person in need. If this act of integrity is any indication, that’s a certainty.