Act of Kindness: Miami Officer extends helping hand to struggling mother

WSVN — A single mother of three in a desperate situation. Miami Police find her oldest child is not in school, and there is little food in the motel room she calls home. In tonight’s Lowedown, a Miami Police officer’s act of kindness has changed this family’s life.

Maidelyn Caneda: "At 8 o’clock at night, when your kids are telling you they are hungry and that their stomachs hurt and you have nothing to give them, it’s really, really hard."

It’s beyond hard for Maidelyn Caneda, a single mother of three. 

Maidelyn Caneda: "When you have to beg people or call people you haven’t spoken to in years, and have doors slammed in your face. When you have to go down to a food bank and stand there for hours and not know if you are even going to get a bag of food. At the end of it, it’s really, really hard."

Two weeks ago, things even got tougher.

Maidelyn Caneda: "I honestly thought I was going to go to jail."

Miami Police do weekly checks of motels along Flagler Street looking to stop criminal activity. On Sept. 22nd, they found Maidelyn and her three children in this efficiency. There was little food in the refrigerator, and her oldest son Roberto was not enrolled in school.

Miami Police Officer James Bernat: "Many families are one paycheck from being homeless."

Miami Police Officer James Bernat was called to the scene. He is the homeless coordinator for Miami Police.

Instead of taking Maidelyn to jail, he decides to help her. He takes her grocery shopping and buys the family food.

Officer James Bernat: "I remember the stories of my parents and how they suffered, not for anything they did, but who they were."

His parents, who have passed away, were Holocaust survivors.

Officer James Bernat: "As an officer, I see that in other people, and everyone deserves a chance."

And Officer Bernat wanted 8-year-old Roberto to have that chance, and enrolled him. It’s easy to see how much Roberto appreciates what the officer did for him and his family.

Rosh Lowe: "On that day, September 22nd, Officer James Bernat had a lot of different options. He could have sent the children to the Department of Children and Families, but he took the option to try and to help this family. Not only has he helped this family with rent, but he helped the child get into school. And there’s something more."

Officer James Bernat: "Maidelyn, I have great news for you. I have an employer, Mr. Green’s here. He’s going to speak to you in a while, and he’s going to offer you employment."

Maidelyn Caneda: (sobbing) "Thank you, thank you."

Maidelyn will be working at Mr. Green’s Produce. Because of health issues, this will be her first job in four years.

Mr. Green’s Produce employee: "On behalf of Mr. Green’s, we’ d love to offer you a job at our produce facility."

Maidelyn Caneda: "Don’t give up, because here are people like him, like Officer Bernat, that can help you, that will help you, regardless of what you have done in the past, because no one is perfect. We just have to keep going."

In Miami, Rosh Lowe, 7News.

Madeline is expected to start work in the coming days. She is hoping to move her family out of the motel and into an apartment.