We often hear negative stories about police officers, but remembering the true reason why most cops devoted their lives to justice is equally important.
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Two years ago officer Dena Walker Pauly was working for the Lawrenceville Police Department in Lawrenceville, Georgia when she was called to a local pawn shop run by an elderly man named Bob. After meeting Bob and learning more about his past, Dena rose far above the call of duty to become one of the most important people in the man’s life.
Dena’s friend and fellow police officer Shannon Volkodav shared her story on Facebook because she wanted people to see and understand the true nature of most police officers in the world. “We are drawn to this profession because we care,” Shannon wrote. “We care so deeply that it hurts sometimes. We see the worst, but sometimes we also get to see the best. And we have opportunities to truly make a difference for people.”
Dena definitely made a difference in Bob’s life. He’d been on his own since he was a child and had no family or friends. He’d been homeless for most of his life, and after suffering a stroke he was largely non-verbal. When Dena walked into his pawn shop there was a palpable loneliness hanging over the man. She knew in her gut that she had to do something to help him.
Even though Dena has a full time job and a family of her own, she adopted Bob into her world like one of her own. “My sweet friend arrived at the pawn shop and was also unsure how to assist Bob, but she sensed he needed help and offered to take him home so he could show her what he needed,” Shannon explained. “She was horrified when she saw Bob’s living conditions.”
After teaching Bob basic sanitation skills that most people learn at a much younger age, Dena began regularly checking on him and bringing him food and other supplies. She’d also stop in to clean his apartment and just have a visit with the lonely man.
When Bob fell seriously ill and it became clear that the end was near, Dena even obtained a Power of Attorney to handle Bob’s medical care. There was no one else who could step up to handle Bob’s affairs or make the important healthcare decisions at the end of his life, so Dena took it all upon her shoulders without complaint.
Sadly, Bob’s health continued to deteriorate and Dena was forced to make the difficult decision to begin hospice care.”She held his hand and told him many times that she loved him,” Shannon said. “It’s quite possible she’s the first person to ever utter those words to this poor man.”
While Dena sat with Bob and helped him transition from one life to the next, Shannon snapped an incredible photograph that will stay with us for a long, long time.
“I’ve never been more proud of any friend than I was today of Dena Walker Pauly. It’s hard for her to say goodbye to Bob. I told him he’s changed her life forever because I know it’s true.”
Shannon soon reached out to a local funeral parlor and explained the situation. They graciously offered to perform their services free of charge so that Dena can take Bob’s remains into her home and keep him close forever. Both Dena and Shannon agree that while it’s hard to say goodbye, they hope that Bob will finally find the happiness and love in heaven that he sorely lacked in this life. Until Dena came by, that is.
Shannon concluded her story with a reminder for us all: “Please also remember to pray for cops. This photo depicts the true nature of law enforcement officers.”
It’s hard to fathom that someone could get to be Bob’s age and have no one in his life, but knowing that there are police officers like Dena out there is a comfort. This is one cop who truly understands what it means to protect and serve.
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