North Raleigh community uses social media to help man fallen on hard times

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Friday, November 18, 2022
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Silvia Gambardella saw a man and his dog living behind a grocery store over the weekend and felt like she had to do something.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Silvia Gambardella saw a man and his dog living behind a grocery store over the weekend and felt like she had to do something.

She turned to Nextdoor and soon a flood of people wanted to help especially with a flurry of cold weather coming.

"I gave him some snacks and water, I do that with every homeless person I come across," said Gambardella, who used to work at ABC 11. "I started chatting with him as to where he was from, and he had a dog with him at the time."

Turns out others who work in the Harris Teeter shopping center off Falls of Neuse Road knew the man named Robert and his dog Keira.

He never asked for money or gave anyone trouble but lived there for some time.

She said she asked Robert what he needed and he said "a sleeping bag for cold weather because it was getting so cold."

Initially 60 people responded to Gambardella's Next Door post. Now they're up to 300 and counting.

"People want to continue to help this man, and I think it really says something about acknowledging a person's humanity," she said.

People donated so much that Robert was able to get a room at the Extended Stay near North Hills.

"You know it's really easy. It just took one sentence," Gambardella said. "There was something about this picture of Robert with his dog that set folks off realizing they wanted to do something and they did."

Gambardella was clear Robert didn't have an issue with drugs or alcohol. He had just fallen on hard times.

Robert didn't want any notoriety for the story but they have raised enough money to help him get his car fixed up. He even has some prospects for a job.

According to this year's "Point in Time Count" by the Raleigh Wake Partnership to End Homelessness, more than 1,500 people are homeless. That number is up by 68% compared to last year.