They say that truly good people commit acts of kindness even when no one’s looking. More importantly, people who genuinely want to help others don’t need cameras or social media to let everyone know of their good deeds. They do it instinctively, with no fanfare.
Not everyone can do what this teenage kid from Albuquerque did when he found a stash of cash sitting beside a Wells Fargo ATM.
Even if it happened way back in May 2020, it remains such an incredible and inspiring story worthy of being retold and reshared. It’s simply a teachable moment for everyone, no matter where you may be in the world.
Then 19-year-old José Nuñez Romaniz of Albuquerque, New Mexico, just happened to be at the right place at the right time. And he did exactly the right thing in that extraordinary situation.
He was only supposed to buy a pair of socks for his grandpa and proceeded to the ATM first to withdraw money. That’s when he noticed a clear bag of money right beside this Wells Fargo ATM.
Other people may have considered running away with the bag of cash. That amount of money can be the answer to a lot of money problems, and they can purchase things that can dramatically change their lives.
And since no one was around at that time, they could also get away scot-free.
But what Jose did instead was to call the number on the ATM to report what he found. The next thing he called was the police.
According to Jose, at that moment, he was just thinking about his parents, especially his mother, and what she would do when she saw him with all that money. Jose could bet all that money that his mother would hit him with her chancla or flip-flops!
Jose would later find out that the bag contained around $135,000. The subcontractor tasked to fill the ATM forgot that the bag of money was there and accidentally left it behind.
The young man’s honesty certainly got the attention of the city leaders. He was awarded a check worth $500 by the electric company PNM to help pay for his tuition.
Jose also received a $500 cash reward and a gift card from El Patron, while ESPN Radio gave Jose and his family Lobo football season tickets, plus a football signed by Brian Urlacher.
In addition, Jose was honored by Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Mike Geier. Mayor Keller praised Jose’s honesty and even added in jest that it was truly admirable to resist the temptation of taking just one bundle off the top of the pile.
For Police Chief Geier, it was heartwarming to see this great example from a young man like Jose. This small act restored their faith in young people and the community.
And since Jose was studying criminal justice at the Central New Mexico Community College, Chief Geier gave Jose and his family a tour of the police department’s crime lab, saying that they would recruit Jose to be a public safety officer if he’s interested.
Despite the bad rep teens get because all they seem to do is get in trouble, there are upstanding kids with a heart of gold and a high moral compass.
Just like this 11-year-old boy who returned a wallet he found on the street despite his family’s financial struggles and this fifteen-year-old boy who pulled up a safe submerged in the river and returned its contents to the owner (the safe contained $1,800 along with other valuables).
It was indeed a proud moment, not only for Jose but for his entire family as well. Receiving all the rewards was only a bonus. The big prize was gaining the respect and admiration of his family for doing the right thing.
To learn more about this story please watch the video below: