Sometimes in life, we find ourselves in difficult or uncomfortable situations. But often it’s just a short-term setback on our journey to something better.
When this family found themselves temporarily without a home, they were offered some shelter from an unlikely benefactor.
In February 2015, Robert Wood had just returned from Alaska to the city of Eugene, Oregon, with his pregnant wife and two young sons. They hadn’t secured permanent housing yet, so they decided to sleep in their car at Alton Baker Park in order to save money.
While they spent the night at the park, 4-year-old Samuel slept on Wood’s lap and 2-year-old Logan slept on his wife, Heather’s, lap. They were sleeping peacefully in their car when a police officer knocked on their window.
It was 10:30 p.m. The park would be closing in 30 minutes. They thought that the officer was going to give them a warning and tell them to leave. Yet he did something else instead.
Lieutenant David Natt offered the family a two-night stay at the Campus Inn.
Natt empathized with the family because he knew that struggling through a cold night while taking care of children must be very challenging.
“Any of us could be right where they’re at,” Natt told KMTR 16 News. “It doesn’t take much. And like I told him, you give him an opportunity to gain a bit of time. A little bit of time is so valuable, and it’s so meaningful to them.”
Despite this, Wood didn’t take the offer at first.
“I told him that I didn’t want that and that I had money in the bank and would feel guilty taking his charity,” Wood wrote in a Facebook Post, giving an account of his story.
Natt insisted, telling Wood that he was able to do all this for Natt’s family because of a fund available for situations like his. The fund was set up five years ago by University Fellowship Church.
But Wood, a former marine, was not looking for welfare. Wood thanked the officer, still unwilling to accept his offer.
What Wood probably didn’t expect was that he was talking to another former marine, and they shared a closer connection than they anticipated.
“After talking for a minute it turns out we were both in the same unit, he about 10 years before me. We both spent time in Okinawa, and other places in Asia and through conversation discovered we had done a lot of the same things in the Marine Corps.”
Although the two-night stay was paid through the church fund, Natt himself paid for many kind acts out of his pocket over the years including buying boots, cups of coffee, and even other hotel rooms.
“It’s part of our three-word motto—protect, serve and care.” said Natt. “And you have to take each one of those in all circumstances to heart when you’re making your decision.”
While Wood had only stayed in the hotel for two nights, he was able to get a lot done in that short time, including arranging temporary housing with a friend in the area. A week later they were settled in a permanent home.
All in all, Woods was very grateful for Natt’s kind act.
“He made me want to be able to do the same kinds of things for other people,” Wood told KMTR. “He took away the shame and let me know that he’s just a person, I’m just a person, and things like this happen. It was moving.”
"I have tears in my eyes.Having just pulled into Eugene, Oregon last night, my family has not yet found a place to…
After Wood wrote his story, which was later posted Facebook, many users responded, thanking him for sharing his experience and the police officers for protecting the public.
“Law enforcement officers do so much more than arrest the bad guys. They look out for the well being of all citizens, in many different ways. Thank you for protecting everyone,” Leslie Ott wrote.
“God bless you and your family and the officer as well. We hear so much more about the bad guys. I know more cops like this good man than the bad.” Brian J Rohrs wrote.
One Facebook user shared two stories of his own.
“I remember when I was 17-18 years old, I was a night telephone and short wave radio operator. I was the only operator on between 12:30 and 7 am. The police had an officer check up on me every night,” Brenda Enns wrote.
“My nephew just told me that he had stood in the drive through at a Timmy’s in freezing weather. An Officer was in a police van behind him, and offered him a warm vechicle to sit in, and when he got to the window, the Atm was down, so the Police Officer insisted on paying for his 2 sandwiches and 2 coffee.” Brenda Enns continued.