Revisiting The Generous Salesman

Car salesmen get called a lot of things. "Living saint" is rarely one of them.

And yet CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman says he really does believe that's what he found at a Chevy dealer outside Portland, Ore.

His name is Korry Holtzlander.

"There are no bad men. There are no bad men on the planet," Holtzlander said. "There're just those who are lost."

By all accounts, this married father of two has always had a good heart. But it swelled to greatness after a series of three chance encounters at work -- the first, about a year ago.

Last December Holtzlander found a homeless man sleeping in one of the cars on his lot.

But instead of giving him the boot, Holtzlander gave him a cup of coffee, talked to this guy for two hours, and eventually helped him find an apartment. t was such an amazing story, that homeless man told another homeless man.

His name is Don Pechum.

"Yea, Don showed up here about a week later and says -- I got a son, he's graduating and he said I haven't been there for him and I really want to do something for him," Holtzlander said.

Don was thinking a new pair of shoes. But Holtzlander was thinking bigger.

"Means a lot to me because he gave me an opportunity to give my son ... look where he's at," Pechum said.

Hartman said, "wait your son works here" at the car dealership?

"Yes," Pechum said.

Korry gave Don's son a job as a lot attendant. He also now mentors the boy. Again, such a wonderful story that Don passed it on to this guy he met in jail -- Sean Wood -- a former meth addict and convicted thief.

Holtzlander gave Wood a sales job and a car to get to work.

The guy's just out of jail -- when Holtzlander didn't know him at all he gave him a job selling cars?

"What's my other choice?" Holtzlander asked.

"To not give him the job," Hartman said.

"That'd be the wrong thing to do," he said. "Here's a man in front of me asking for help and I say no?"

Read Hartman's last story about Holtzman, "A New Lease On Life."
Click here to find out how you can help or to simply send Korry Holtzlander an e-mail.
Understandably, word of this good Samaritan salesman started spreading through the homeless and prison communities. And the more people showed up the more people showed up, the more Holtzander gave.

Andy Garcia was living in his van with his wife and two little kids when Holtzander gave him a sales job and a month's rent.

"So within five hours ... he hired me at 11:30; by 3:30 we were back in our duplex," Garcia said.

In total, about 50 people have come to Holtzlander for help. In some ways its been a real sacrifice.

How much money has he spent out of his own pocket?

"Everything we have," Holtzlander said.

But in other ways, he says it's paying off in spades. It's been two months now since we first told that story. And so much has happened.

Last we saw Don Pechum, the man who just wanted shoes for his kid, he was out of work and living in a tent.

"This is what I do now instead of holding a sign on the freeway," he told Hartman.

The people at West Coast Sand and Gravel saw the CBS News story and offered Pechum a job cleaning up their shop. But he was such a hard worker they're now training him to be a diesel mechanic.

And finally, the brightest news of all -- frustrated by the lack of transitional housing available for all the homeless people he'd met -- Holtzman took matters into his own hands, and actually bought a house.

"They're not homeless anymore, they have a home," he said.

It sleeps five. And quite comfortably.

"These towels are like super fluffy," one resident said.

Holtzlander said guys will stay here just long enough to get back on their feet. And then make way for the next person in need.

"We've had a lot of people say where do you stop," Holtzlander said. "If it's really in your heart you want to do more. It's uncomfortable if you're not doing something."

Sounds like Hartman might be doing another update soon.

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.