From left to right: Jeff Kane, Marciano Gutierrez, Corey Collmann
The wind chill was 30 degrees below zero and the mom had just run out of gas. She and her six-year-old son trudged to the nearby Alegent Creighton Health Immanuel Medical Center. They were stranded, cold and homeless.
“I had a call to go to the front desk,” Immanuel Security Officer Jeff Kane said. “I saw a female and her son. He was crying. She was crying. They’d been driving around for six to seven hours looking for someplace to stay.”
The young woman told Officer Kane the shelters were overflowing and she didn’t have any family to help her out. “They were hungry. They hadn’t eaten since early morning,” he said. A fellow officer, Marciano Gutierrez, rushed to the cafeteria and brought back boxed lunches and drinks.
“We wanted to make sure they were taken care of,” Officer Gutierrez said. “We wanted to make sure they felt welcomed. They were homeless and living in her car.”
The woman had been in nursing school until she was forced to drop out because of money.
“You could tell the mother really loved her child,” Officer Gutierrez said.
“The boy was upset because they had no place to go,” Officer Gutierrez said. “We hung out with him to help him forget he was homeless.”
A third security officer–Corey Collmann–pitched in and the three found the social workers’ list of shelters and called them. Their search was as frustrating as the woman’s: every shelter was packed with homeless people trying to stay out of the bitter cold.
The officers reached out to the Alegent Creighton Health Hospitality House and spoke with Coordinator Judy Swartz. Swartz quickly made arrangements for the two to have a room. Then the officers, concerned that the cold would freeze the woman’s gas lines, put together cash and filled her tank.
“The mother was extremely grateful,” Officer Collmann said. “Not only was it cold outside but Jeff (Kane) and I are parents. We were looking at it from a parent’s perspective.”
“It’s the way everyone should treat everyone,” Officer Kane added. “It’s the way I’d want people to treat my family.”
“We’re here for the patients,” Officer Gutierrez said. “We’re here for the visitors–anyone who walks through that door. We’re here to make a difference in people’s lives,”
Alegent Creighton Health’s Manager of Security John Determan said the three security officers “went above and beyond by showing compassion.” He applauded them, adding: “It’s not uncommon for these guys and the rest of our team to live the Core Values each and every day. I am proud of them.”