Story Summary

Teen Walks Miles for Job Interview

teen An 18-year-old Indianapolis teen is now gainfully employed after starting a 10 mile journey for a job interview.

Jhaqueil Reagan was making a long trek in cold weather, when he had a chance encounter with the owner of Papa Roux Cajun cooking.

Owner Art Bouvier gave the teen a ride and then decided to give him a job at the restaurant after seeing his commitment to getting a job by walking for miles in the snow.

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Just 10 days after trudging through the snow and ice landed an Indianapolis teen a job, the overwhelming response from across the globe has led him to begin paying it forward.

“I describe it as a work of God,” said 18-year-old Jhaqueil Reagan, who admits he didn’t really believe much in God prior to his encounter last week with Art Bouvier, owner of Papa Roux restaurant in Indianapolis.

On Feb. 22, Reagan had no money but he had a job interview nearly 10 miles away. Despite weather that dumped snow and sleet on Indianapolis, Reagan decided to walk the entire distance.

Along the way he stopped to ask Bouvier for directions. Bouvier was so impressed by his dedication to find work that he later decided to offer Regan a job at his restaurant.

“I’m thinking to myself, here’s a kid walking almost 10 miles in the ice and slush and snow for the hope of a job at minimum wage,” Bouvier said during an interview with Fox59 later that day. “That’s the kind of story your parents used to tell, my parents used to tell, up both ways in the snow.”

Since then, Reagan’s story has also become the stuff of legend. He’s been immortalized in his own editorial cartoon, done interviews on several national programs and seen his picture pop up on stories he can’t begin to translate.

“People all over the globe have seen me,” Reagan said. “It’s really crazy.”

“The story, as one of my customers put it, is redefining viral,” Bouvier said.

That’s because it’s added up to much more than just “likes” and “shares”, it’s created a new life for Reagan.

“It really has changed quick,” Reagan said. “I went from sleeping on a couch to sleeping in my own house, you know, my own apartment.”

Reagan admits he was homeless and living with friends until Bouvier helped connect him with a landlord who saw his story.

Reagan also didn’t have a phone, but he soon met representatives with Boost Mobile who changed that. Now, he’s taking phone calls from the Chicago Bulls organization. They contacted him after seeing him on television, proudly wearing his favorite Chicago Bulls hat.

“They gave me some tickets to the Bulls,” Reagan said. “I was really impressed. I think it’s awesome.”

Reagan also received a free bus pass from an employee of IndyGo, though he hasn’t had to use it too much ever since meeting his co-workers, who have volunteered to give him rides.

“I really appreciate it,” Reagan said. “I’m really grateful.”

Reagan’s story didn’t just land him a job. Papa Roux has been so busy since the first story that Bouvier has had to hire extra staff to keep up with unprecedented demand.

“We’ve got five new permanent hires,” Bouvier said.

Some of those employees have spent a lot of time answering phones.

“My cashiers have turned into receptionists,” Bouvier said, pointing to a list of people who have called and offered donations.

He also has a box full of slips with even more names and numbers.

“Each slip is an individual contact of a person with a name and a number and they want to help financially,” Bouvier said.

In fact, so many donations have come in that Reagan decided to create the Jhaqueil Reagan Foundation. He says half of the money will go to help disadvantaged people find work. The other half will help him along with a group of the most important people he’s met in the past 10 days.

“Twenty-five percent of my half is going to Papa Roux employees,” Reagan said. “They have been working their fingers to the bone, while all of this has been going on. The restaurant has been more busy than it has ever been and they really deserve it.”

If you would like to give to the Reagan’s Foundation, send donations to:
Jhaqueil Reagan Foundation
973 N Shadeland Box 323
Indianapolis, IN 46219

IndyGo is stepping up to help a young man who trudged through the cold weather for the chance to land a job.

Jhaqueil Reagan was making a long trek in cold weather, when he had a chance encounter with the owner of Papa Roux Cajun cooking.tickets

Owner Art Bouvier gave the teen a ride and then decided to give him a job at the restaurant after seeing his commitment to getting a job by walking for miles in the snow.

The kindness spread. Now, IndyGo is presenting Reagan with a bus pass so he can get to his new job and back home again without having to walk.

“Just seeing someone with that type of determination, you can’t do anything but help,” said Paula Haskin.

Haskin said she saw the story on Fox59 and was inspired to help. She spoke with her supervisor to get Reagan the year-long bus pass.

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What started out as a miserable day battling an icy 10-mile walk for a job interview, ended with a job offer and social media fame for an Indianapolis teen.

It was all thanks to a chance encounter along the way.

Art Bouvier decided to delay the opening of his restaurant, Papa Roux Cajun Cooking, due to the snow and ice. It was when he was salting down his sidewalk that he noticed a young man, 18-year-old Jhaqueil Reagan, walking toward him with a determined look on his face.

“He came walking through the parking lot and cutting the corner to get down westbound on 10th Street and he says, ‘Excuse me, can you tell me how far it is to 10th and Sherman?’” said Bouvier, who also goes by Papa. “I looked at the ground, it’s all ice, and I said, ’10th and Sherman? That’s about six or seven miles away. You’re not going to get there anytime soon in this weather. You’ll probably need to take a bus, and he said, ‘Okay, thank you sir.’ And he just kept going.”

Not only was 10th Street icy, it doesn’t have a sidewalk for an extended stretch on the east side. Papa said that’s why he was surprised to run into Reagan again while driving down 10th Street 20 minutes later.

“I said, well how come you’re not on the bus?” Papa said. “He said, ‘I can’t afford the bus until I get a job.’”

Reagan told Papa that he was walking to a job interview for a minimum wage job at a local thrift store. Though Papa knew the interview was at 10th and Sherman, he soon found out that Reagan was actually living at 42nd and Post, nearly 10 miles away.

“I’m thinking to myself, here’s a kid walking almost 10 miles in the ice and slush and snow for the hope of a job at minimum wage,” Papa said. “That’s the kind of story your parents used to tell, my parents used to tell, up both ways in the snow.”

Papa gave him a ride the rest of the way, gave him money for lunch, and told him he’d try to see if he could find room for him in his kitchen if he still needed a job after the interview.

Papa then shared Regan’s story on Facebook. Within a few hours he had more than 7,000 likes.

“More likes than I have friends,” Papa said. “It’s been shared 1,200 times. I have no explanation for that.”

On Friday night that promise became reality. Papa, called Reagan and offered him a job. He also offered to pick him up and bring him in for his first shift.

“I’m lucky I met him,” Reagan said. “I’m really lucky I met him.”

Reagan said it’s been hard finding opportunities. He was forced to quit school two years ago when his mother died. He completed his GED while staying home to care for his siblings.

Now that he has a job, and a following on Facebook?

“It’s crazy. I don’t even know. It’s really crazy,” Reagan said. “My heart’s just racing right now. I’m just too excited, just excited to start.”

“I can show you the ropes tonight if you want. We’re really busy in there,” Papa said to Reagan.

“Thank you very much,” Reagan said.

Reagan’s story inspired an outpouring of support on Facebook. Several people offered to buy him a bus pass in order to make it to his new job, but that won’t be necessary. After seeing the story on Fox59, a representative with IndyGo offered him a complimentary one year bus pass.

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