Bellevue millionaire pays off remaining layaway balances at College Place store

Bellevue millionaire pays off remaining layaway balances at College Place store

It's a case of a local boy making good and helping the folks back home.

Aegis Living founder Dwayne Clark settled remaining layaway charges for 53 accounts at Walmart in College Place on Wednesday.

The businessman lives on the west side of the state, but says he grew up in the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla.

He says he wanted to help the communities that helped him become the man he is today.

"All those communities helped me grow," he said. "I wasn't the best of kids."

One of many families benefiting from Clark's random act of kindness say it's not just an unexpected windfall, it's more like a Christmas miracle.

Like most grandmothers, Sherry Baumann in Walla Walla was thrilled when her daughter Jennifer and grandson Jaxx moved back from Sacramento.

Still, she couldn't help but feel apprehensive when she went to make a payment on Jaxx' Christmas gift at Walmart the other day.

"It was already past the due date and I thought, 'Oh, I'm in trouble'," Baumann explained. "This has been a really tough year, I lost my husband two years ago and money's been kind of tight."

When the cashier told her the account was paid off, Baumann thought she was joking.

"I was questioning her and the friend that was with me said, 'Just stop talking'," Baumann laughed. "It's wonderful, it's absolutely wonderful. I've been stressed out and this has relieved a lot of my stress."

But it wasn't just Baumann's account, every account at the College Place store was paid in full.

According to his website, Clark was raised by a single mother struggling to provide for her kids on low wages.

He says he understands hardship, and worked hard to get where he is today.

These days the assisted-living empire he founded is worth millions of dollars, and Clark says he'd like to make the most of his success.

"It's great to receive, it's better to give," he said. "The greatest gift you can give is to give of yourself to help our world be a better place."

Clark told Action News he's grateful to be in a position to help people, and he's hoping others will be inspired by his gift and pay it forward.

Clark says he's seen how random acts of kindness can spark goodness in others, and that's what he wants others to take away from this, because you never know the impact you might have.

"Somebody could be heading [in] the wrong direction and it might be the slight correction they need to get on the right path," he said, adding it doesn't have to be expensive, difficult, or only during the holidays. "You may not be able to pay off layaways but you can do something no matter what your situation. If we all do that, it's going to make our world such a more pleasant place to live in."

Baumann says she's overwhelmed with gratitude.

"To know that there's actually people out there that really do care about other people, I hope I can carry that on, I hope I can reciprocate it [someday]."

Clark's generosity doesn't stop there. On Thursday Morning he also donated to the Life Church in Walla Walla. His gift will buy a portion of the 185 new bicycles the church is distributing to disadvantaged kids in the area.

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