Most traffic stops go off without a hitch. In the event of a violation, a police officer issues the driver a ticket, and both parties go on their way.
But when officers stopped Ebony Rhodes and discovered she was driving with a suspended license and no insurance, she was arrested on the spot and the car was impounded. It appeared her already difficult life was able to take a turn for the worse.
While officers were having the car towed to the impound lot, they noticed something peculiar in the backseat.
Rhodes, a single mother of four children, was working two jobs just to keep them fed. Any fringe expenses fell by the wayside as the family lived out of their 20-year-old Buick Regal.
“We were getting a whole lot of bags, a whole lot of clothing and everything and I told him, ‘hey, this is our home. This is where we were living,” said Rhodes.
The officer at the scene was heartbroken and put in a call to Deputy Chief Jeff Glazier about the family in need.
“I remember turning to my wife and saying, ‘You know Michelle, we have to do something.’ And she said ‘Well go do something,'” Glazier said to CNN.
The more Glazier learned about the family, the more he felt like he needed to help. On top of battling her own health issues, Rhodes’s daughter has lupus, one of her sons has asthma, and her oldest works until 10 or 11 every night after school.
After Rhodes was released, Glazier put in a call to the owner of a shelter he knew and asked if there was room for the family of five.
“I called her up and said, ‘listen: I’ve got a family of five, including three boys and a girl and he’s 17. Do you have any room,” said Glazier. “And she said, ‘yeah, I’ve got some room.'”
When Rhodes was arrested, it looked like things couldn’t get much worse for her family. But suddenly things were on the upswing for her and her four kids.
“Oh God, when he called me that day I just started crying,” Rhodes said to CNN.
But staying in a shelter wasn’t ideal. Glazier said he never intended for it to be permanent, and he was on the lookout for a long-term solution.
After a few months at the shelter, Glazier helped the family find a more permanent living situation in their own apartment.
Rhodes now works as the assistant manager of a fast food restaurant, while her eldest son works 30 hours per week to help pay the bills.
But between the daily expenses that come with four children, and quickly growing list of medical bills, the threat of homelessness looms once again. For that reason, Glazier started a GoFundMe page to help the family keep their home.
“It’s not like she didn’t want to work,” Glazier said. “When I first met her, she had two jobs, trying to do the right thing.”
“My goal is pay her rent, food, medicine, and transportation for a year so she can continue to work and save money without the stress of wondering if her family will be homeless again,” Glazier said on the GoFundMe page.
The Deputy Officer continues to help the family and acts as a mentor to the four kids. It’s a role he’s willing to fill for as long as necessary.
“If we were to let Ebony’s family fail,” he said via AJC.com. “I think that would be a failure on us.”