She Braced Herself

She Braced Herself

CNN

Sweat dripped down her face as she gripped the steering wheel and braced herself for the inevitable. She watched nervously as a cop walked closer to her car. She tried keeping her anxiety in check, but she knew there was no way out of this. She was in serious trouble and there was nothing she could say to him that would save her. The moment of truth was upon her as she rolled down her window.

A Brand New Life

A Brand New Life

Jeff Glazier / GoFundMe

Ebony Rhodes had already experienced some of the most difficult months of her life. She relocated her entire family to Atlanta, Georgia, after her mom passed away. She's a single mom with four kids, which meant she had to find a means of providing for her family right away. Fortunately, Atlanta had some great job offers. But Rhodes had to face facts. She kept a secret from everyone for the well-being of her kids, but the truth was about to come out.

She Was In Trouble

She Was In Trouble

Atlanta Police Department / YouTube

Rhodes was driving her kids to the library on one seemingly uneventful afternoon. She told them to study and do well in school, especially since finals were coming up. She knew that a good education would mean a great life for them. In fact, she thought about this on the drive there, which is why she failed to realize a patrol car had approached her. Then, she saw the flashing lights and heard the siren, and Rhodes knew she was in trouble.

Traffic Violations

Traffic Violations

CNN

Rhodes knew why the cop had pulled her over. Her tag was expired, but she didn’t have enough money to renew it. And if that wasn’t bad enough, she was also driving with a suspended license without insurance. She was certain the cop would have some serious issues with these violations. But that wasn’t what terrified her. Her deep dark secret was about to be exposed. The thought of it made her start to cry.

Worst Fears Come True

Worst Fears Come True

CNN

When the police officer approached her window, it was clear to her that she was crying. But she couldn’t understand why. "She came to the car and asked why was I crying and I was like, '…because I know my license isn't good,'" Ebony said. And once the cop reviewed her situation, Rhodes’ worst fears were confirmed. The officer told her she would have to impound her car and arrest her. Rhodes panicked because she knew her secret would come out.

Bad To Worst

Bad To Worst

Atlanta Police Department / YouTube

The cops took her and her four kids to the police station. Rhodes was allowed to call her co-worker to pick her kids up and to call her sister in Florida. She was the only other family member who could look after the kids while she was behind bars. But that meant her kids would have to move to Florida, and Rhodes couldn’t stand the thought of being separated from her kids. She had bigger issues to worry about. Once authorities searched her vehicle, she had to confess.

Chief Weighs In

Chief Weighs In

CNN

Atlanta Police Department’s Deputy Chief Jeff Glazier was in his office when the cop who apprehended Rhodes came into his office. The officer explained that she and the other cops were doing a routine search of Rhodes’ car. And what they found had left them utterly shocked. It was such an unexpected discovery that Chief Glazier went to take a look for himself. Once he realized Rhodes’ situation, he said, “We have to do something about this.”

Truth Dawned On Them

Truth Dawned On Them

CNN

Officers found tons of bags, backpacks, and miscellaneous items inside Rhodes’ 1997 Buick Regal. At first, the cops thought Rhodes was a hoarder. Then, the truth became clear. Rhodes and her kids were sleeping in their car. Horrified, Chief Glazier grabbed Rhodes’ cell to speak with her. That’s when she explained everything to him.

Drowning In Bills

Drowning In Bills

Jeff Glazier / GoFundMe

Rhodes had been working several shifts at Walmart since she moved to Atlanta. Her pay was horrible. To make things worse, both she and her kids had health issues. This made it impossible for her to save enough money for an apartment. So, she and her family ended up homeless and living in their car for the past six months. As soon as Chief Glazier heard all of the details of Rhodes’ life, his tough exterior softened and his heart broke.

Full Of Shame

Full Of Shame

Atlanta Police Department / YouTube

Every night, Rhodes would drive around from one place to another to find a safe place to park for the night. But it wasn’t easy. "A lot of times I didn't sleep because the kids were asleep," Rhodes explained. "I was watching to make sure nothing happened — no one tried to rob us… so we'd just stay right there in the car.” For a while, she managed to keep her situation a secret, but she was so ashamed.

She Felt Like A Failure

She Felt Like A Failure

Jeff Glazier / GoFundMe

“When I got off work we would just sleep right there in the parking lot in my car,” Rhodes said. “A lot of people didn’t know that because I was still going to work.” But she knew this wasn’t good for her kids. "I apologized to my kids and let them know I'm sorry," she added. But when that cop pulled her over and arrested her, she feared she would lose her home. It turns out, she was wrong.

Finding A New Home

Finding A New Home

Atlanta Police Department / YouTube

Chief Glazier reached out to a woman he had recently met. She was the director of a family homeless shelter. "I called her up and said, 'Listen I've got a family of five including three boys and a girl, and he's 17,'” he shared. “And she goes, 'Yeah, I have some room.' And if you know anything about shelters in the middle of the winter, there's nothing available and she had something available. I couldn't believe it." Rhodes was just as stunned as he was.

Departmental Help

Departmental Help

Atlanta Police Department / YouTube

Chief Glazier gave Rhodes the awesome news. "When he called me that day I just started crying because I'd been trying to get into different shelters for a long time," she explained. "No one would ever accept us." Chief Glazier wasn’t done helping. He also set up a fundraising campaign within the police department, so Rhodes could rent an apartment. Eventually, the officers realized the funds weren’t enough, so they reached out to the community.

Everyone Supported Them

Everyone Supported Them

CNN

A GoFundMe page was set up by the Atlanta PD to help Rhodes. “My goal is to 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,” Chief Glazier wrote. Within a matter of days, they reached their initial goal of $15,000. So, they extended the goal to $75,000 to cover the family’s medical costs. They wound up raising $64,370. Now, Rhodes looks back on that day where the cop pulled her over with a different insight.

The Day That Changed Everything

The Day That Changed Everything

Atlanta Police Department / YouTube

“Atlanta Police Department is my backbone,” Rhodes said. “They helped me come a long way. The whole APD is my family because I can call on them for everything.” And she’s grateful she got pulled over that day. If she hadn’t been, things would have been different. "Had I not got pulled over that day, I'd probably still be in my car, just taking a risk every day. Losing that car and getting pulled over that day changed my life."

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