IMMOKALEE, Fla. Army Veteran Justin Bratcher and his pregnant wife came back to an uninhabitable home from Hurricane Irma.
But with little money and no place to live, Bratcher and his family still found a way to help others. They used the last tank of gas they could afford to drive from their home in North Fort Myers, which had holes in the roof, to Immokalee, where they heard conditions were rough.
They handed out supplies and water there, helping people even though they need help themselves.
“Once you’re a soldier, you’re always a soldier, and it’s all about helping people,” Bratcher said.
They spent almost all of their money evacuating, but the Wyndham Garden Fort Myers Beach hotel and Pinchers seafood restaurants are rewarding them for their compassion, giving them a place to stay and food to eat for the next 20 days.
“We were just trying to help people,” Bratcher said. “My life has really just changed. And you know we’re still out here trying to help and do the right thing, and we’re just very humble for everything.”
The Bratchers, who have a 3-year-old and a 16-month-old, were living out of their car until they checked into the Wyndham. They couldn’t stay in a shelter because one of the children contracted pink eye, Bratcher said.
“We’re truly blessed,” Bratcher said.
Ellis Etter, Wyndham’s GM, admires the Brathers’ selflessness.
“I think that’s what America’s all about,” he said. “People give back when they are lucky enough to perhaps not have as much storm damage.”
Pinchers owner Tony Phelan echoed those sentiments.
“It makes you feel good,” he said. “They will in the future pay it forward to someone else.”
Learn more about the Bratchers in this video from WINK reporter Chris Grisby: