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12,000 reasons to say "Thank You" Rural African-American museum receives donation

Posted at 6:59 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 20:46:57-04

For the second straight day, I was in Opelousas, back at the Rural African-American Museum, and I am pleased to say that for Wilken Jones the curator, we brought some good news.

It was Wednesday that our story aired about the financial constraints--- $11,000 owed for rent and utilities---of the Rural African American Museum. In fact, these were Mr. Jones’ own words only 24 hours before, as he paraphrased the words written in a bill collection notice.

“We have been notified ‘…if you don’t come up with X amount of dollars, you will be removed’.”

In other words, evicted. Ms. Christl Mahfouz of Lafayette just happened to see that story before the sun came up. “So, it was four o’clock this morning, I couldn’t sleep, decided to grab my phone and opened up Facebook, and the story popped up that you did with Mr. Jones yesterday,” she says.

Mahfouz then picked up the phone, “And I said, “Hi, Mr. Jones, this is Christl Mahfouz, just wanted to know if you’re still looking for contributions.”

Mr. Jones loved her next words. “…And then she told me she was willing to donate 12,000 dollars to the museum.”

At that point—it was 7:30 a.m. when she called him—Mahfouz says all she heard in response to her offer was… nothing. “Well, he was a little silent for a moment, and he said, ‘Wait, did I hear you correctly?’”

Was it a $12,000 prank someone was playing on him? Jones had to ask. “I said, ‘You joking, huh?’ She said, ‘No, I’m serious’.“

Once Jones realized Mahfouz’s donation was on the up-and-up, it came time to iron out the details. Christl was going to mail it from her Ace Specialties office, but instead, I was blessed to play the role of philanthropic deliveryman.

“Here’s a check from Ms. Christl Mahfouz to the Rural African American Museum for $12,000,” I said as I handed Mr. Jones the donation. His response? A classic one-liner. “Whoa!!”

It’s good people like Christl Mahfouz that remind you of the good in the world, people doing good things and paying it forward. Mahfouz says it was only five years ago when she herself couldn’t pay the bills of her Ace Specialties company. “To me, it was God speaking. And it took me back to 2015 when I prayed to God every day, “Show me a sign, show me what I’m supposed to do in life, I can’t give up’.”

Wilken Jones says he can’t wait to meet Mahfouz, but in the meantime, there’s a shot of triple gratitude. “Tell her thank you, thank you, thank you,” he said most appreciatively.

For Mahfouz, the words from our Wednesday story that struck a chord with her were Jones’ final ones. “And you quoted Mr. Jones at the end of the story, saying ‘The old folks used to say: if you don’t know your history, then most likely, you don’t know where you’re going for your future’.”

That saying was so important to Mahfouz that she’s printed it out and is having it posted around her Ace Specialties office on Beau Pre’ Road in Lafayette. “It’s true. We are who we are because of where we came from, and preserving our history is the best thing we can do,” she smiles.

One other note—I asked Mr. Jones how it felt to have all of his bills paid, and he said, “Man, I can breathe again.”

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