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Students Rush To Help Homeless School Teacher

The Chicago Tribune wrote about Henry Wolfson, a 66-year-old substitute teacher at McCracken Middle School who is now homeless. Now, three former students have started a fundraiser to help their beloved teacher.

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.

He moved into a homeless shelter after he could no longer pay rent on his Evanston apartment, the Tribune reports.

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.

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If you have any pictures of Mr. Wolfson please send me a note at georges@patch.com. Thanks!

Kevin Killion September 08, 2012 at 05:33 PM
This is a wonderful story about a group of individuals coming together to help out a person in need. But, the article needs more explanation: As it stands, it suggests that if you can't afford the rent in Evanston, the only remaining option is a homeless shelter.
Marilyn Hollander September 12, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Is there someone out there that can assist Henry secure senior subsidized housing,based on income, for the rest of his life? Preferably in Skokie, so he is close to work. Also how to get food stamps, food from a food pantry, furniture and anything else he needs for his apartment from the Chessed Fund in Lincolnwood for Jewish people with financial problems. He can also get reduced bus pass as a senior citizen. Henry will also need financial advise on how to handle the funds coming in so generously!
Jim September 12, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Touching story regarding the community support for a proud and humble man. Mr. Wolfson, you remind me of Mr. Holland in the movie "Mr. Holland's Opus' Like Mr. Holland, you have left a lasting positive legacy! p.s. The original story said that one of his problems revolved around not having a cell phone, causing Mr. Wolfson to have to travel via buses and trains to use a free phone to call in for Sub assignments because he could not be called directly. There was a story a few months back about a Federal government program that put free phones in the hands of poor people. I don't know if it's still available, but worth a call from Team Mr. Wolfson, as money raised would be better saved and spent elsewhere, if at all possible. http://www.mygovernmentcellphone.com/ If not this website, then perhaps another would point you in the right direction.
Senada Sabovic September 23, 2012 at 04:15 PM
A 66 year old man SHOULD NOT be homeless. Where is the government to help? What about low income housing? This breaks my heart. This is not how our elders should be living their golden years.
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