When TikToker and founder of the Dream Machine Foundation Charlie Rocket Jabaley met Tony Rojas, a houseless man who'd lost his job at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, in Colorado in October 2021, Tony and his wife were living out of a van. Charlie, who boasts more than 5 million TikTok followers, had been traveling through the area on his Dream Machine tour bus, which raises money to support those in financial need across the US. Tony approached Charlie's bus, sharing his dream of launching a food-truck business. Little did he know how quickly that dream would become a reality.
"Tony touched my soul when I met him," Charlie told POPSUGAR in an email. "His eyes. I knew the second I saw Tony's eyes, I wanted to help get him off the streets."
Charlie then set out to put Tony's dream in motion. The pair went to the grocery store to pick up ingredients, and Charlie let Tony do what he does best: cook. After trying Tony's famous (and reportedly very delicious) "nacho tacos," Charlie knew he had to spread the word. In as little as two days after sharing the story of Tony on TikTok and other social media channels, Charlie's foundation had sourced enough donations to buy Tony a $40,000 food truck. "For all of you that watched my video, thank you for making me happy," Tony said in a TikTok video. And it doesn't stop there. To generate more buzz around Tony's burgeoning food truck and raise even more money, Charlie's foundation held an event for Tony, during which they raised about $50,000 toward a $100K goal of getting Tony and his family out of their van and into a more permanent living situation. Thanks to online donations from those who were touched by Tony's story, the team hit that goal soon after.
"We moved [Tony] into an apartment, paid his rent for one year so he doesn't have to worry, and purchased his very own food truck so he can have a sustainable business." Charlie continued, "Tony is also receiving mentorship from chef and restaurant owner, Brother Luck."
Tony is one of many others whose lives Charlie and the TikTok community have been able to transform. If you want to help, you can donate through Dream Machine Foundation's website or by Venmo-ing donations directly to @dreammachinewallet. Ahead, get a more detailed look at Tony's story, and follow @Charlie on TikTok to see even more dreams coming true.