Mason, MI – A thankful Michigan couple said that the selfless actions of two Ingham County sheriff’s deputies helped their desperate family get back on their feet when they were homeless and down to their last $35.
The family’s patriarch, Joseph Rodriguez, recently sent a photo of his thriving family to the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office (ICSO), and thanked them for helping them in their time of need.
An ICSO sergeant and a deputy first met the Rodriguez family in the summer of 2018, as they were conducting a welfare check, the department explained in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
They soon discovered that the family of seven was living in a van, and that they had only $35 to support themselves.
The sergeant and deputy managed to get them a two-night stay at the Staybridge Suites on Meridian Crossings Drive, which also provided them with laundry service and breakfast.
Next, the deputies secured a $100 gift card from town’s Mason Meijer store, which allowed them to get food for the evening. They also gave the family gift certificates to Culver’s in Okemos, so they could have dinner and ice cream.
But they weren’t finished yet.
“The deputies picked up donated backpacks and accessories from the owner of Verizon Wireless in Mason, where an employee arranged for the family to get a free haircut from a friend,” the ICSO wrote.
Sam’s Club in Eastwood Town Center donated a “sizable” amount of diapers and food at the deputies’ request, and a detective was able to arrange for them to all receive free teeth cleanings at Care Free Medical & Dental.
“The family was also able to get a ‘handy man’s special’ mobile home in East Lansing where they got back on their feet,” the department noted.
On Monday, Rodriguez’s wife sent a letter to the department, thanking them going above and beyond.
She explained that when the deputies found them, she and her husband had recently lost their jobs because she had been in and out of the hospital for several weeks.
“Within 24 hours, we lost our jobs, our home, and almost everything that was in our home,” she wrote.
Rodriguez found a new job, but the family used the last of its finances to pay for the hotel where they’d been staying, and he hadn’t received his first paycheck yet.
“We had contacted shelters, but they were all full,” she explained. “We tried finding a campground to stay at with our last $20, but ended up sleeping in a carpool lot. We had no idea how we were going to keep things moving forward.”
“The next morning you found us,” the grateful mother wrote.
Rodriguez received his first paycheck from his new job the following day.
“Without your help, we wouldn’t have had enough money to pay for gas so Joseph could keep his job,” his wife said. “We wouldn’t have had supplies to be able to stay in the campground without you. It helped us save up money so that we were quickly able to purchase our own mobile home.”
She said she had no doubt that her family “could’ve been stuck in a long cycle of homelessness” without the assistance of the ICSO and local businesses.
“We are so thankful,” she wrote.
Rodriguez also sent a note to the sheriff’s office, along with a photo of his smiling, now-eight-member family.
“Thank you so much for your help last summer,” he said. “It gave us the jumpstart and hope we needed to get on our feet. Our family reflects on, and cherishes, the help you coordinated for us.”