HOUSTON - A Houston area high school senior trying to earn money before heading to college says he had the police called on him in his own neighborhood.
It happened on Saturday, when John Egharevba, 17, was walking in his Memorial Villages neighborhood introducing himself and asking neighbors if he could paint their house number on their curb for $10 a number.
On his third job of the day, the Houston Christian High School senior says he saw a police officer and felt uneasy, that they would be coming for him. He was correct.
"I saw the cop turning onto the street and I kind of just had a gut feeling maybe they’re coming for me," Egharevba said. "The first question the cop asked me is 'are you homeless?' and I said, 'No ma’am, I live in this neighborhood."
One neighbor, Alma Del Toro, says the 17-year-old was painting her curb when the officer stopped him and choked back tears as she recalled the incident.
"It just felt very unfair," she said. "When I saw his face and I could only think if it was my son approached like that."
The teen says the police revealed why police were called out, which upset Del Toro even more.
"It turns out there were calls. People were calling the cops on me saying I was going around door-to-door asking people for money," Egharevba said. "Mrs. Alma came out, and she definitely stood up for me. It was moving to see a complete stranger being so kind toward me."
"I was like, ‘oh my God, this is even worse,' He’s our neighbor, and we’re treating him like this," Del Toro added. "I was like shaking upset, and I wanted to make sure John didn’t remember my house for that experience."
Del Toro posted a picture of Egharevba along with the story on social media, hoping to bring awareness to his situation.
"When John started walking away I asked him can I take a picture," she said. "Nobody should be treated like that...I surprised him with a nice tip, and he came back and said, ‘Ms. Alma I think you made a mistake,’ and I was like, ‘no.’"
Del Toro also said after seeing what happened in Memorial Villages she hopes other residents will handle a similar situation much differently.
"Think twice, maybe three times and four times before making assumptions," she explained.
Since she posted the story online there’s been an outpouring of love, support, and people making appointments for the high school senior to paint their curb.
"I'm just glad everything went ok because I know things could have gone differently," Egharevba said.
Additionally, the 17-year-old and his parents perhaps now have a larger family because of this.
"I told them I’m going to be John’s aunt now," Del Toro said smiling. "He’s not going to get rid of me in his life."
As for moving toward the future, the high school senior says has been accepted into a couple of colleges but is still waiting to hear from his first choice: Stanford. In fact, he's got quite a story to tell about the business he started on his first day as a high school senior.
"I’ve traded stocks. I buy and sell shoes," Egharevba concluded. "So I’m either going to pursue business or economics."
"So Stanford, don’t miss out," Del Toro said. "He’s an amazing young man."
If you'd like to make an appointment with the teen to paint your curb you can reach him by email.