Score another win for the Fullerton PD’s Homeless Liaison team.
The four officers on the unit help get homeless people the resources they need — even going to such lengths as paying for bus rides across country to deliver them to relatives or friends willing to take them in.
And so it went Tuesday, Aug. 2.
Officer Cary Tong, a member of the Homeless Liaison team and North County SWAT, was contacted by the front desk of the FPD concerning a homeless family that needed a shower.
He directed the family to First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park and went to the center to check on the family early Tuesday evening.
While there, Tong was put into contact with another homeless woman, Jessica Aikey, 38, of Florida.
Aikey was in a pinch.
Earlier Tuesday, Aikey was forced out of a rehab center in San Clemente with nowhere to go.
The center had paid for her to come to California to enter treatment but told her she had to leave the program because her insurance had lapsed three weeks earlier.
According to Aikey, the rehab center refused to pay for her flight home to the Orlando area, as originally agreed upon, and discharged her immediately.
A driver took her to the shelter at First Southern Baptist Church, where she met Tong.
“I was upset and scared and had no way to get home,” Aikey said of being discharged.
Aikey and her husband of 16 years have two children, ages 16 and 6, but precious little money. He is unemployed and looking for work. Aikey lost her job due to drug addiction prior to entering treatment.
After Aikey met Tong, he informed her about a program the FPD offers to homeless folks in a pinch: a free bus ride to a relative or friend who can look after them.
Tapping city-approved money set aside for such a purpose, Tong bought a one-way Greyhound bus ticket for Aikey for $271.50.
Aikey boarded the bus at the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center at 9:35 p.m. Tuesday and is due to arrive in Florida on Friday, Aug. 6, just after noon.
She and her family will stay with her husband’s father in Casselberry until they can get back on their feet.
“I was surprised and thought it was a little unbelievable,” Aikey said of meeting Tong and his subsequent purchase of the bus ticket.
“I was in shock, but happy. This is a big relief. I’m so grateful for the Fullerton PD. Today started off really bad, but thankfully it ended up on a good note.”