APD Officer Changes Lives With Program for Under-Privileged Children
May 31, 2013
Albuquerque- Crime Stoppers and the Albuquerque Police Department team up annually to organize the Cops for Kids event. Today Mayor Richard J. Berry and Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz recognized APD Detective Rosemary Gallegos for spearheading the event with the Title Homeless Project.
Every year around the December holidays about one hundred under-privileged children are given a special present; the kids are picked up by a local law enforcement officer around 8 in the morning, are treated to a fresh meal, a $100.00 gift certificate for shopping for clothes and fun items, and they get to enjoy a fun day of playing games.
Last year, Detective Rosemary Gallegos was put in charge of the program, which is getting ready to celebrate its 19th year. Throughout the year Det. Gallegos visits about 100 children in their homes to do in-person interviews, she also raises about $14,000 for the gift cards and meals. Through her inspirational work Det. Gallegos recruits, not only families in need, but a hundred local law enforcement officers to volunteer their time.
Every family that Det. Gallegos visits has a story, sometimes including a tragic past of sexual abuse. Each of the children has needs from simple tangible items like toothbrushes or a pair of sneakers to school supplies.
One family that Det. Gallegos met through the Title 1 Homeless Project was living out of her car with her two children, a boy and a girl. The mother was petrified that her children were going to be taken away and was extremely apprehensive of the program. Det. Gallegos gently presented the option to the mother, buying her and the children breakfast at a local restaurant. The single mother had been living out of her car with her children, on occasion paying for a hotel room or staying with friends. Though the mother had been working a temporary job she was still struggling to buy them basic necessities. Every day the mom would take the kids to school, ensure that they did their homework, even take them to the restroom of a fast food restaurant to get cleaned up. When asked what she needed the mother asked for toothpaste and wipes for the children. During Cops for Kids the children received the basic necessities and more. They were also “adopted” during the holidays by the volunteer officer; he and his wife rented a hotel for several weeks for the family, had a Christmas tree delivered, and purchased presents for the family. The mother and her two children are now living in their own home, a happy ending to what was a devastating segment of their lives.
These types of stories are endless and they are what impassion Det. Gallegos to continuing the program. She is a hero to all of these families and through her work she changes lives.