In 2015, after a 10-year-old girl turned up at her elementary school late and exhausted on multiple occasions, her teacher and administrators grew concerned about her living conditions.
The school ultimately decided to call the police to do a wellness check on the little girl. When an officer arrived at the scene, he uncovered a heartbreaking secret about her home life. The officer learned that the girl and her father had been living in their car for months.
The girl’s father, 41-year-old James Schweikhard, had moved from Oklahoma to Lakewood, Colorado in hopes of providing a better life for the two of them after he lost his job. However, things started off rocky after they arrived in Colorado and the SUV they’d been traveling and living in broke down.
Therefore, James had to walk his daughter to her school every. Life become even more challenging after he was fired from his job since he had no mode of transportation to get to work.
“It’s tough. It’s really tough. Because I’ve got to look out for her [my daughter] as well as myself. I’ve got to make sure she’s good and taken care of,” James said in a YouTube video posted by Humankind. One day, the father was alarmed to discover police officers gathered outside of his SUV.
Fearing the worst, he approached them. “I saw them looking at my truck, and I was like, ‘officers, what’s going on, why are you looking at my truck?” James asked. He was stunned by their response. He was informed by Lakewood Officer, James Butler, that they were there to help James and his daughter upon discovering their confined living conditions in their SUV.
After hearing the father’s heartbreaking story of dealing with job loss while homeless on top of getting his daughter to school, Officer Butler was even more inclined to do anything he could to assist James and his daughter.
“It was the right thing to do because at any point in time in our lives any one of us can be in that same situation,” the officer said. “Offering assistance to another human being is the right thing to do.” James admitted that he “wasn’t used to getting help from the cops.” Officer Butler and his fellow officers were able to find a homeless shelter for the father and daughter. They also got in contact with the Ace Towing company to retrieve the broken-down SUV and drop it off at Sun Valley Automotive to have it repaired. Both companies happily offered their services for free.
“Feels really different to help someone who you know is down on their luck,” said Jere Burton, the owner of Sun Valley Automotive. After their story gained popularity in the media, James and his daughter’s life finally took a turn for the better. James was able to get a new job, more people began donating items and they eventually moved from their SUV into an apartment. Kindness goes a long way, and the kindness displayed by the Lakewood Police Department and the community will hopefully stick with the small family for a lifetime.