Orange County

How UNC community generosity is helping a crossing guard visit her son

The call was put out on Tuesday morning and the response from the UNC Chapel Hill community was overwhelming.

In less than 24 hours, a GoFundMe campaign initiated by Carlos Salas received almost quadruple the amount of money it set out to raise.

So what’s the cause?

Salas set up the campaign to help beloved crossing guard Joann Isom fulfill her dream of traveling to Arizona to visit her oldest son. Salas called on the UNC community to help Isom with small contributions and it came through.

“In the spirit of giving back to the Carolina community, we are calling out to every Tar Heel who, even for a day, has been impacted by Joann’s commitment to our school and community,” Salas said. “If every person who comes across Joann on a daily basis were to give up a single drink at Starbucks, or that frosty from Wendy’s and gave a few dollars as a thank you to this lovely woman’s time and effort, think of fast we could get Joann to see her son in Arizona!”

The campaign, which started with a $700 goal, had raised more than $2,500 by 7 p.m. Wednesday. It had attracted donations from 342 people, mostly in increments of $5 or $10. The largest donation of $200 came from an anonymous donor.

Isom was overwhelmed by the response.

“OMG. .. THANKS GUYS! I LOVE YOU ALL! (DIDN’T REALLY KNEW Y’ALL WERE LISTENING) ! LOL!,” Isom responded in Facebook.

Salas said he found Isom’s story on the Humans of UNC Facebook page. That page had been inactive since December but the post about Isom struck a chord with Salas.

“If you’re a student at UNC, chances are at some point in your college career you’ve been able to safely walk through the South Rd/Stadium Dr intersection while continuing to stare at your phone or listen to your music, all thanks to Joann Isom’s continued dedication to keeping you safe,” Salas said. “We came across her story on Humans of UNC’s Facebook page and you should definitely read (her story).”

Isom grew up in Athens, Georgia and has worked since she was 16 years old and has been on own since she was 18, according to the post. She considered herself a homebody and hasn’t taken the opportunity to travel. But that has changed now that her children are grown and no longer nearby.

“Now that I’m getting older I think I really want to travel,” Isom said. “My oldest son is in Arizona, so I would like to go to Arizona. I want to go to Hawaii one day. So now my focus is, I’m just getting older, I just want to travel so if I could make that happen then I’d be a happy person.”

The campaign runs through Nov. 3. Salas said Isom will be presented with the gift on behalf of the Tar Heel community.

“Thank you all so, so much for surrounding such a special & loving woman with endless amounts of appreciation!” Salas said.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews

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