- Associated Press - Sunday, May 21, 2017

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) - Sheena Davenport, a teenage mother, fell on hard-times and caught herself committing a crime just in order to feed her family.

With help from Dothan Police Officer Katrina Culbreath, Davenport, 18, learned a life-lesson: there are still good people in this world.

“I would have never thought I would have to steal in order to feed my family,” Davenport said. “My fiance and I moved to Dothan about a year ago. We are originally from Georgia, but the company he worked for at the time needed him to relocate. Just recently he lost his job and I am unemployed. I don’t have a high school diploma, or a GED. I had to drop out of school when I had my daughter. No one wants to hire someone without their GED. I found that out the hard way.”

With no one working in the home, food became pretty slim.

“I had to feed my family,” Davenport said. “We literally only had $5 to our name. That wasn’t going to buy enough food for three people. This was the worst day of my life. I have never been in trouble before in my life but, that day I stole enough food for supper for a couple of nights, a few snacks and a bag of gummies for my 17 month old daughter.”

Davenport was caught and soon found herself in front of a judge, pleading her case.

“I was actually sitting next to (Davenport) in the courtroom,” Culbreath said. “I overheard her talking to another lady about what she had done and the situations that led her to the point of stealing food. I sat there and listened to the entire conversation and it hit me: I have been there. No, I haven’t stolen, but I do know how hard it can get trying to feed your family. Both my husband and I work. We both have jobs in law enforcement. Plus, he owns his own business and things still get tight. Her situation was worse. She had no income coming in.”

Following the court hearing, where Davenport was ordered to pay $700 for restitution and fines, she was stopped by Culbreath.

“I asked her to wait for me outside of the station,” Culbreath said. “She just looked at me. She was so confused. I met her outside where I told her to follow me. I pulled up to a local grocery store. I told her I wanted to purchase her family some groceries and diapers for her daughter. I wanted her to know, I know how sometimes things just overcome us and we feel like we have hit rock bottom. I wanted her to know I knew how she felt, but nothing is never worth stealing. I made it clear that day if she ever needed any food or clothes not to steal, find me. I will help you as much as I can. If I can’t, I will help her find someone who will.”

Culbreath was reluctant to share the amount she spent to help Davenport. She did not seek any individual attention. Davenport posted about the trip on her Facebook page to thank Culbreath for her kind gesture and mentioned the amount, which exceeded $100.

That day Culbreath was led to help someone in need. What she didn’t know was she also taught Davenport several important lessons in life.

“That day I learned there are people that care,” Davenport said. “She did not do this for attention. She helped me in many ways that day. She took her time and her money to help a complete stranger, and for that I am so grateful. I am truly blessed. She showed me that, yes, things are hard but she has helped me to understand there is a light at the end of the tunnel. She is also helping me find resources on free GED classes. I want to go back to school. I want to get my GED and maybe one day I can get my cosmetology license. That is a goal of mine.”

On a day where Davenport faced a judge she feared would be the worst day of her life, it actually became a day she will hold dear for the rest of her life.

“You know I had people refer me to food banks for help, and I did that,” Davenport said. “But, what so many people don’t understand is, food banks can only do so much. It wasn’t like I didn’t try other ways of feeding my family before I got to that point that day. I did. But, thanks to Officer Katrina, I now have hope. She showed me so much that day, she showed me humanity and compassion. But, most importantly she never looked down on me”.

Davenport wasn’t the only person who learned a lesson that day. Culbreath said God puts people in your path for a reason.

“I didn’t do this for attention or to be put in the spotlight,” Culbreath said. “I did this to help another human being. I felt led to help someone. Everyone hits a rough time in their life. Some are harder than others. I knew that day she was in court, she was sincere and truly sorry for breaking the law. If we all help someone who truly needs help, we can show everyone no matter what color they are, they are not alone. Their life has a purpose.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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