It’s not in Ralph Rodriguez’s nature to kick a man while he’s down.
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The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania city councilman started a non-profit in 2019 called All You Can, Inc. Their mission is to provide basic needs and emergency resources to at-risk families in their community, and Ralph takes that duty very seriously.
One night in January, a man wearing a hat, face mask, and glasses tried to break into the All You Can office. Ralph contronted the man, who ran off without taking anything. With only grainy security footage, they had no way to identify the burglar.
The story could have ended there, but the would-be thief had a crisis of conscience. Twenty-two-year-old Rashawn Turner reached out to Ralph on Facebook to apologize for trying to break in.
“I have to be willing to face the consequences and that is what I’m ready to do,” he told Ralph.
“I made a severe lapse in my judgement that night,” Rashawn explained. “My father was struggling with basic needs and I was like, I can’t sit here and just wait for what little we still have to be taken away. I have to do something.”
Ralph could have called the police then and there, but that’s not who he is. Instead, he was empathetic and extended the hand of friendship. He even started sending money to help the struggling young man.
“I actually took the time to hear his story, see the environment in which he lives in,” Ralph said. “And I get it. Poverty has a way of pushing you to do things that you would have never imagined you were even capable of doing.”
“Making sure he’s financially good and has some clothes on his back,” Ralph explained. “Because what he doesn’t need any more is any more disappointments. I’m pretty sure people have told him things in his life and dropped the ball 10 out of 10 times. It’s just not what I’m prepared to do.”
Ralph also hired Rashawn to do some work around the office, starting with some interior painting. Rashawn says he never expected Ralph to turn the tables on him in such a meaningful way.
“I thought there would be no one willing to help me, but you never know, you just have to ask,” he said. “But I wasn’t willing to ask.”
Rashawn is grateful to have a mentor like Ralph in his life. Perhaps this attempted break-in was meant to be.
Share this story to thank Ralph for being a wonderful example of kindness and empathy in action.
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