(WSVN) - When times get tough, most of us rely on the support of our families. But for many of the homeless in South Florida, families live too far away, and there’s no money for food, much less a ticket home. That’s where two Hollywood Police officers are stepping in, changing lives and creating a “Family Reunion.” 7’s Nicole Linsalata has the story.
Eddy Palmer is a soft-spoken man. He’s polite, kind and well-liked.
Eddy Palmer: “I’ve fallen on a few hard times.”
Four years ago, with his health failing and no job, Eddy found himself homeless in Hollywood.
Eddy Palmer: “Things just didn’t pan out like I thought they would and, you know, jobs are hard to find.”
And Eddy is not alone. Right now, there are about 3,000 homeless in Broward and more than 4,200 in Miami-Dade.
Eddy Palmer: “A lot of people don’t want help; they wanna stay like they are. For me, I don’t.”
Eddy is now in his 50s. His health is getting worse and life on the streets has taken its toll.
Eddy Palmer: “It’s just been a struggle, and I’m tired of struggling, you know?”
So Eddy went to a local homeless agency for help.
Eddy Palmer: “I said, ‘Man, I’m trying to get to Alabama,’ I said, ‘I got an address, but I ain’t got no money.’ They said, ‘Call Officer Chung.'”
Hollywood Police Officer Dwayne Chung: “He was desperate. You could hear the desperation in his voice.”
Hollywood Police Officer Dwayne Chung and his co-worker Moeed Ishrat thought Eddy would be the perfect fit for the Homeless Reunification Program, which tries to unite people with their families, no matter where they live.
Officer Dwayne Chung: “I started the ball rolling by contacting Moeed and our police department to see if we could assist him in getting a ticket back home.”
Within days, the two officers had the OK to use city funds set aside for the program to purchase Eddy a ticket to Alabama.
Officer Dwayne Chung: “He has a brother up in Alabama who is gonna help take care of him.”
But first, one last stop to say goodbye to some friends.
Then it was on to the Greyhound bus station, where his bags were packed and his ticket was purchased.
And a final handshake from his friend, Officer Chung.
Officer Dwayne Chung: “With his family supporting him, he should be able to get the support he needs.”
With hopes of a better life ahead, Eddie boards the bus and off he goes, home to a family reunion.
Eddy Palmer: “I’m gonna make it by the grace of God. I’m gonna make it.”
We heard from Eddy the next afternoon when he arrived in Alabama. He sent us pictures like this one:
He says he made it there safely and is currently working as an electrician’s assistant. He is thankful for a new start.
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