"I'm so grateful – people have been wonderful," Chauncy Jones Black tells PEOPLE
Five weeks after a stranger in a supermarket parking lot took him up on his offer to buy him and his mom donuts in exchange for carrying grocery bags, Chauncy Jones Black has $340,000 in the bank to use toward college and a new home, along with the job he always wanted: cutting lawns with a riding mower in Memphis.
“I’m so grateful – people have been wonderful,” Chauncy, 16, tells PEOPLE. “Me and Matt White are pretty much family now.”
Matt White, 30, is a Memphis singer and songwriter who gave the teen and his mother, Barbara Black, 61, a brighter future after buying them several bags of groceries to go with those donuts Chauncy wanted on June 11.
As told in PEOPLE last month, Matt was shocked when he entered the Blacks’ small apartment and found no food in the fridge or furniture in the rooms. Chauncey and his mom, who used to iron clothes until she developed a multitude of health problems, were sleeping on the floor.
“It was very humbling,” Matt tells PEOPLE. “I just felt an overwhelming desire to help.”
Barbara, who adopted Chauncy as an infant from her daughter, along with six other children, all now on their own, is currently looking to buy a house with some of the money, earmarking the remainder for Chauncy’s future college education.
Chauncy, who will soon start his sophomore year in high school, received a job offer from Hamilton’s Lawn Care in Memphis to mow lawns three days a week. “Mowing lawns with one of those mowers you can ride is something I always wanted to do,” he says. “It’s a fun job for the summer.”
Robert Hamilton, owner of the lawn care company, says he was inspired to hire Chauncy when he learned how hard the teen worked doing odd jobs to help his mother.
“He’s a good kid with a strong work ethic, and he deserves the opportunity to learn,” Hamilton, 43, tells PEOPLE. “Chauncy is very receptive and I think he’ll accomplish anything he sets his mind to do.”
Hamilton, who hopes to retire in a few years, says that if Chauncy wants to take over his business after graduating from high school, he’s welcome to it. “I don’t want to stay with this forever,” he says, “so if he wants it, I’d love to give it to him.”
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Chauncy also has an interest in aviation and recently attended a camp where he learned about airline mechanic jobs and took a flight in a small plane.
“I want to do it all,” he tells PEOPLE, “but most of all, I dream about buying me a restaurant someday so my mom can cook anything she wants. It’ll be a soul food restaurant, and I’m going to make myself a whole bunch of hot wings, yes, ma’am.”
Until then, he is happy mowing lawns and attending church every Sunday with Matt. “He’s my best friend – he changed our lives,” says Chauncy.
As for Matt White, he says that the friendship between him and Chauncy is “proof that skin color doesn’t matter.”
“I haven’t seen the racial tension that everyone in the media is always talking about,” he tells PEOPLE. “The people who reached out to help Chauncy are proof of that. Blessings have poured in to help from all over the world. It’s been an honor to be a part of that.”