'Homeless, hungry 4 success': Man hands out resumes
Jasmine Scofield was driving in Mountain View, California, on Friday and spotted a man standing by the side of the road with an unusual sign. He wasn't asking for money, he was asking people to take his resume.
"I had just finished my last day of work at my previous job and was driving to meet my coworkers for a party," Scofield told CBS News. "I was driving to a restaurant... and I saw David," she says. David Casarez was holding a sign that read, "Homeless, hungry 4 success. Take a resume."
"As I saw his sign, the light turned red and I said, 'This is perfect,'" Scofield says. She rolled down her window and called Casarez over to her car. "I grabbed a resume and asked him what he did," she says. He said he was an experienced web developer and, like a lot of people in Silicon Valley, was looking for work in the tech industry.
Casarez told CBS News that for a while he'd been sleeping in his van while pursuing his dream, but he'd fallen behind on the payments, lost the vehicle, and resorted to sleeping on a park bench.
"Living on a park bench is not the best feeling, you never know who or what is around you. I became restless just thinking about my safety," Casarez said. But he never gave up.
"I have always kept a can-do attitude. That's how I have always lived my life," he said. So he donned a long-sleeved dress shirt and slacks, printed out 50 resumes and made his now-famous sign.
Before Scofield drove off, she took a photo of Casarez and his sign. "I yelled out, 'Do I have your permission to post this on Facebook and Twitter?' And he said yes," she says. "That was the last time I saw him."
Scofield realized her posts of Casarez on social media were blowing up later that night. "I spent 20 to 30 seconds writing the tweet and Facebook post and by the end of the night, it hit almost 10,000 shares. I called him and warned him, and I said, 'Hey, I'm the girl who took your resume and it's going viral,'" Scofield says.
Casarez told Scofield he was already getting emails and calls from people who had seen her photo of him. Scofield says she and Casarez spoke on the phone for an hour that night, and he told her more about his journey.
"He told me about his dream to come to Silicon Valley to start his own business and app. He cashed out his 401(k) to come here," she says.
Casarez told Scofield his freelance work as a graphic designer was giving him enough income to eat and clean his clothes, but not enough to keep a roof over his head in one of the nation's most expensive housing markets.
"I thought to myself that if I could just get one person to notice me and give me a chance at a job opportunity that I would still have hope," Casarez told CBS News. That one person was Scofield.
What brought Casarez's to Silicon Valley was an app idea called "Mesa," which helps mom-and-pop food businesses scale up and reach the masses, CBS SF Bay Area reports. "I want to do something that will put my name out there, make a mark on society," Casarez told the station. After moving to California from Texas, he burned through his savings and was swimming in $80,000 worth of student loan debt.
"He told me that he had been interviewing, and most of the time they were rejections. ... The most memorable one that he told me about was interviewing at Apple," Scofield said.
"I've been pretty close to his situation before. I really understand how difficult it is to find work in Silicon Valley," said Scofield, who is a makeup artist. "It hit really close to home for me…. I was determined to help him." By Monday, Scofield's tweet had gotten over 130,000 retweets, and she had helped Casarez get support from others.
"I have received [job] offers from all over," Casarez told CBS News, "I have a few interviews I'm working on getting through right now. Overall, it's been a surreal moment for me."
In addition, Austen Allred, the CEO of Lambda School, a business that teaches coding, sent Casarez an Airbnb gift certificate to help him get off the streets.
"They have arranged housing assistance while I interview as well as transportation to and from interviews," Casarez said.
Casarez told CBS News that he was hopeful something positive would come from all of the attention and tells others in a similar situation to keep their heads up.
"If you put it in your mind that you can do something, you will do it," says Casarez. "Don't let anything stop you."
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