POTTSTOWN >> Imagine going from living in your car in the dead of winter to having your own apartment.
For one area man, it’s no longer a matter of imagination.
“Ed was homeless for about 18 months over in the Pottstown Walmart,” explained Stephanie Gennaro of Spring City, who has taken on helping Ed find a home.
Gennaro said she met Ed when she was at Walmart with her son. Ed had been living in a truck with a sign on it that said, “I am homeless. Can you help me please?”
“We saw the truck and I said to my son, ‘Let’s go back,’” explained Gennaro. “Something drew me to stop and I turned around and went back and said to him, ‘Are you OK?’ We talked for an hour-and-a-half, we went and got some things and dropped them off. I started coming back once a week to check on him and charge his batteries for him and stuff.”
A friendship developed between the two and when winter came around, it became harder for Gennaro to deal with Ed living in his car.
“He lived his truck, which unfortunately was not working at the time. I would go and bring food, stop by and say hello. Then it started to get cold in December and it wasn’t sitting right with me. Dec. 15 was our first little snowstorm and I went up and checked on him because I was just scared to death. He had no heat, nothing. I told him, ‘I’m coming back tomorrow and we’re going to have to put you in a hotel. I can’t do this. I can’t lay at home in my warm bed knowing that you’re freezing in your car’.”
Gennaro said she returned the next day and Ed was waiting with snacks and a drink in hand. She arranged accommodations for him at the Comfort Inn and decided to enlist the help of her community not long after.
Gennaro created a Facebook page called “Help Ed Stay in a Warm Bed” which provided updates with Ed’s progress and encouraged the community to lend a hand. With the help of the Facebook page, Gennaro was not only able to provide Ed a place to stay for a few months but was also able to raise enough money and gather enough items to set him up in his own apartment in Pottstown, where he will be moving this weekend.
“The community started to donate nights for him to stay at the Comfort Inn. The Comfort Inn gave us a very generous rate. They have been phenomenal. Unfortunately he had a life-threatening emergency and was in the hospital. He was there and a nursing home for about a month. He got out and we put him back into the hotel. In the interim, his disability has been approved so he will now have steady income every month and he moves into his own apartment this weekend,” Gennaro said with a smile.
Gennaro also created a GoFundMe page that has raised $4,258 of its $5,000 goal. The page is aimed at providing items Ed will need for his apartment including necessities like linens, meals and furniture.
On Wednesday, Gennaro held another fundraiser at Giovanni’s on Route 724 to help him just before his big move.
“It’s kind of our one big, last hurrah and who doesn’t like Italian food,” said Gennaro. “Giovanni’s has been a huge support for him. We’ve picked up a lot of food here for him. They have also lent out their work vehicle. We’ve already put big appliances, like a stove and a fridge in his apartment that have been donated to us. So tonight anyone that comes in and mentions that they’re here for Ed, Giovanni’s is going to give back 10 percent of whatever their revenue is tonight.”
Gennaro says she’s excited for Ed to have a place of his own and that she knows their friendship will last a lifetime, adding that it would not have been possible without the help of her community.
“It takes a village and it’s been really nice to see the good in people,” said Gennaro. “It’s been wonderful to see the community come through with a positive role. We need to hear these good stories.”