2. Chris Gardner
Chris Gardner was a single father. His wife left him to care for their toddler in San Francisco alone. His single paycheck just wasn’t cutting it, and he was evicted from his apartment. For an entire year, he was homeless, locking himself in public restrooms and standing in line at homeless shelters and park benches. He found an internship program at a stock brokerage and spent the only money he had paying for his son’s day care. Once he had the internship, Gardner would sometimes sneak his son into the office so that they could sleep under his desk. After a year of unpaid work, he was finally given a full-time position at the firm because of his dedication and talent at trading stocks.
Today, Chris Gardner is worth over $60 million. He donates a lot of his money and time to homelessness charities and preventing violence against women. Gardner’s story inspired the movie The Pursuit of Happyness, starring Will Smith.
A single mother named Dionna lived in Detroit, Michigan, with her young son, Daerys. When she lost her job as a nurse, Dionna had no money to pay for childcare and no family nearby to help her with babysitting. She refused to give up her son to foster care. This meant that they were forced to live in homeless shelters together until he was old enough to go to public school for a few hours each day. Even when Dionna found a job, it wasn’t enough to get out of rock bottom.
After years of being on the waiting list, they finally got an low-income apartment through help from the state. It still took Dionna’s entire paycheck to pay for her share of the rent, food, and other necessities. They couldn’t afford any furniture, so Daerys slept in the corner on a pile of blankets. A nonprofit organization called Humble Design paid for their furniture, including a bedroom for Daerys. He was so overwhelmed with joy that he immediately started to cry, and he’s not the only one to have that reaction. Since 2009, Humble Design has furnished apartments for 724 families around the Detroit area.