On September 19th, 2013 Phoenix Police Officer Ernesto Rocha went to 300 E Van Buren St. in response to a stolen bicycle. When he arrived, Ernesto met with Ms. Valerie Roy. Unfortunately, police officers write stolen bicycle reports on a daily basis and very few of those are unique in occurrence. Valerie’s theft was like most others; it was her story, her predicament that tugged at Ernesto’s sense of compassion and empathy.
Ernesto learned Valerie had moved to the valley a few years ago to start a new life. Things did not work out for her and so she returned to her hometown in New Jersey to try to improve her life.
In 2012, one year ago today, Valerie fell victim to Hurricane Sandy. She lost all of her personal possessions. Valerie decided to return to Phoenix, to start over, to improve her life. All she had to begin with was the $1000.00 she had received from FEMA.
Over the past couple of years Valerie has had a tough time of it. She has been homeless, living on the streets, and she has worked odd jobs just to survive. Since moving back to Arizona Valerie has attended school and is currently working on her BA. This survivor continues to work odd jobs in Phoenix to pay rent and take care of herself. Valerie had been working a job at the Arizona Center when her bicycle, her only means of transportation was stolen from a bicycle rack. She was devastated and in tears as she told Officer Rocha of her loss.
Ernesto describes that Valerie’s sadness was then complimented with anger and frustrated with her life situation. The officer understood there was not much he could do for her, but he gave Valerie a ride home and assured her he, and the Phoenix Police Department would do what they could to help her out. Ernesto contacted “Angels on Patrol”, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting victims through public safety referral.
Ms. Leah Heathcoat of Angels on Patrol queried the vast number of community business partners who support the efforts of Angels on Patrol and was able to secure a used, but dependable bicycle to donate to Valerie. On Monday, October 28th Ms. Heathcoat was joined by Tara Buntin and Christina Catalano of “Angel RE” and also associated with Angels on Patrol, and Offer Rocha and the bicycle was presented to Valerie. Valerie was all at once excited, appreciative and humbled by this act of kindness. She has a new faith in law enforcement and her gratefulness to Angels on Patrol and Officer Rocha cannot be dictated.
A simple act of kindness, a gentle push toward “the light at the end of the tunnel”; sometimes that’s all it takes. Kudos to you Ernesto.