By Karen Morfitt
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – A preschool teacher in Fort Collins is going above and beyond for a student and her family. Jenna Aubuchont, 4, is diagnosed with autism and is non-verbal.
Preschool teacher Dana Cruse says Jenna does not communicate with everyone.
“She gives the best hugs and it’s unexpected,” she said with a smile.
From the day they met, Cruse was an exception.
“I was so drawn to her because it’s my educational background and she’s so intelligent,” she said. “I think I’m teaching her something, but she’s teaching me way more.”
Excited about Jenna’s progress in the classroom, Cruse reached out to her mom.
“I was just telling her how Jenna was adjusting to our class. I told her everything has been fantastic so far, and it came up that they were homeless,” she said.
Jenna, her two sisters and their mother, Bethany Aubuchont, lost their home in Texas.
With friends offering to help in Fort Collins, the family got in the car and left everything behind.
“I thought that it was going to be perfect. I had heard so much good things about Colorado, so I said ‘Let’s do this. We can do this,’” Aubuchont said.
Help didn’t last long and the family found themselves in a shelter, or sometimes worse.
“We had to go there every day at 3:30 p.m. to try and get a room everyday, so sometimes we didn’t, sometimes we did. If not, we would sleep in the car or find a way to get money and camp,” she said.
After learning about the family’s struggles, Cruse stepped in.
“Their problems kind of became my problems, and I couldn’t just keep living my life knowing she was struggling,” she said.
About a month ago, she started a GoFundMe, raising a little over $2,000 and now a small raffle. Her goal: to get the family a place to call home.
“I was blown away I have never had anybody do that for me. I cried, honestly. I cried a lot,” Aubuchont said.
“All of my students mean a lot to me, and I just want the best for them, and I know that a stable home is going to make a huge difference in her life and her future,” Cruse said.
If you would like to help the family, you can donate to the GoFundMe page.
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.