Not so long ago, Ebony Rhodes’s life looked a lot different. According to CNN, Rhodes was employed at a discount store in Atlanta. At the end of her stressful, grueling shifts, this mother of four knew she didn’t have a nice home waiting for her to relax in.
Instead, the chronically ill Rhodes was forced to spend her time away from work in her 1997 Buick Regal. Her family of five lived in Rhodes’s vehicle for six long months.
While other families enjoyed weeknight dinners in the comfort of their kitchens or dining rooms, Rhodes and her children ate in the car. Rather than lying on soft mattresses at night, the family of five slept on car seats. In addition to playing video games in the car, Rhodes and her kids also had meaningful conversations in it. Rhodes understood her unenviable living situation wasn’t safe. But, the caring mother believed surviving in her vehicle was better than her other option.
After failing to find any available shelters that accepted entire families, Rhodes firmly decided not to separate her family. According to Faithwire, the mother of four’s youngest daughter has lupus, an autoimmune disease. Unfortunately, she’s also partially blind in one eye. Rhode’s middle son, Jaheame, suffered serious burns during a horrific accident that took place while he was visiting relatives in Florida.
Finding safe places to park her car overnight became an issue. Rhodes’s children missed school often. Rhodes admitted, “A lot of times I didn’t sleep, because the kids were asleep. I was watching to make sure nothing happened — no one tried to rob us … so we’d just stay right there in the car.”
Heartbroken about her situation, the mother of four stated, “I apologized to my kids and let them know I’m sorry.”
One day, as Rhodes was driving her children to the library in order for them to study for finals, an officer stopped her for having an expired tag on her vehicle. Remembering the incident, Rhodes said, “She came to the car and asked why was I crying and I was like, because I know my license isn’t good.”
The policewoman impounded Rhodes’s car and arrested the homeless mother. A co-worker picked up the kids and cared for them until a family member from Florida could travel to get them. In December of 2016, a colleague of the policewoman who arrested Rhodes told Deputy Chief Jeff Glazier about the mother of four’s plight. After contemplating the sad situation, Glazier, a “devout Christian” and 25-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department, told his wife Michelle, “We have to do something about this.”
Glazier recalled he knew the administrator at a facility for the homeless in a nearby precinct. The Deputy Chief said, “I called her up and said, ‘listen I’ve got a family of five including three boys and a girl, and he’s 17.’ 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.”
Regarding the moment Glazier told her the good news, Rhodes said, “When he called me that day I just started crying because I’d been trying to get into different shelters for a long time. No one would ever accept us.”
Living out Acts 20:35, which reads, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” Glazier didn’t stop with securing the Rhodes family a shelter to stay in. The Deputy Chief stated, “You know, staying in a shelter is not optimal. I considered that the whole time just to be a short-term solution for this family. Because even those conditions weren’t great — by any stretch of the imagination.”
Glazier, along with his colleagues at the Atlanta Police Department, set up a GoFundMe campaign to make certain Rhodes and her children won’t have to resort to living in their car again. Over $55,000 has been raised thus far. Rhodes secured an apartment for her and her children to live in.
Deputy Chief Glazier recently supplied an update about Rhodes and her kids more than a year after the arrest that changed her life.
“It has been awe inspiring to watch this family grow while receiving support from complete strangers,” he said.
Jaheame was transferred to Grady Hospital in Atlanta where he resumes his treatments for his burns. Ebony is back to work and her children are studying hard.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
~ 1776 Christian