NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — WAVY-TV 10 viewers first heard from former U.S. Marine Antoine Wongus in early November, the day after he tried to save the life of his 25-year-old neighbor.
The 40-year old Wongus was removing items from his family’s former home when a young man, who grew up nearby, entered the home after he was struck in an apparent drive-by shooting. Wongus explained in detail how he used the skills learned in the Marine Corps to apply pressure to a gunshot wound. He said paramedics later transported the young man to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Wongus was behind the wheel of his parked car when he shared the harrowing details in a Zoom teleconference interview.
Later, in a telephone conversation, WAVY-TV 10 anchor and reporter Regina Mobley’s concerns were confirmed when Wongus shared that he was homeless and lived from his car. At night, Wongus said, he pulls his Nissan Altima into the driveway of a home that was destroyed in a fire in July.
WAVY-TV 10’s Kiahnna Patterson provided live coverage the morning that home was destroyed.
Based on that conversation, Mobley contacted former U.S. Navy sailor Jasmine Charles, who runs a nonprofit and was the subject of a WAVY-TV 10 story in October.
Five years ago, Charles was homeless and lived in her car while enrolled at Norfolk State University. She shared her story with the news media and a good Samaritan provided a scholarship that allowed her to finish her degree. Charles now cruises the streets of Hampton Roads looking for veterans and other homeless people who need help.
One week after Wongus tried to save his friend’s life, Charles met Wongus to offer a helping hand.
On Veterans Day, Charles used funds from her nonprofit organization to help Wongus with the deposit needed for an apartment in Newport News. Wongus had already financially qualified as a tenant, but he just needed help with the deposit.
Charles often records her interactions with those living through homelessness and shares the exchanges with her followers on Facebook and other forms of social media. Based on this all-too-real television, contributions have flowed in via her Cash App: $yascharles, GoFundMe, and Venmo: @Yasmine-Charles accounts.
In the office of the Meadow View Townhomes, Charles presented a hot-off-the-press money order with enough funds to secure a place for Wongus to call home.
The former Marine said the 10 On Your Side connection was the answer to several prayers.
“This ain’t nothing but God I can honestly say. Yesterday was the Marine Corps birthday and now here we are, Veterans Day, and it’s veterans helping veterans. Navy and Marine Corps team ’til this day. We are still going to be Navy and Marine Corps team,” said Wongus.
Charles was proud to offer help to a veteran on Veterans Day this year. She told 10 On Your Side tossing a few dollars to a homeless veteran is not enough to help those with no roof over their heads and no therapy for long-term mental health issues.
“My goal is going beyond handing out toiletries and handing out $10 or $20 here and there. My goal is to help [get] off the streets one person at a time to help them get situated with counseling … Homelessness begins at home and it affects your soul,” said Charles, who has written her memoir titled “Shut up and Look Cute!: Diary of a Homeless Soul.”
“We don’t need to wait on the government. We don’t have to wait on the VA [Veterans Affairs]. You and I can help one another and this is what this is all about,” said Charles.
Wongus’ unit will not be ready until later in November. Until then, he has a heartfelt message for Charles and 10 On Your Side.
“I want to thank all y’all, ’cause don’t know what I would do without y’all… [Charles] is the angel that God sent to me. I honestly believe both of you all [Charles and Mobley], God sent both of you all to me,” said Wongus.
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