A group of cops pooled their money to help this landscaper after his truck, tools, and rent money were stolen.

Adrian Salgado supports his family working as a landscaper. Losing his truck and tools meant losing his livelihood.

It started as a morning like any other for Adrian Salgado, as he started his gardening work in Santa Ana, California. But before he knew it, he was running down the street chasing his own work truck, brazenly stolen by two thieves. The truck had Salgado's work tools, cell phone, and $1,000 cash for rent in it, and he wasn't able to catch it as it sped away.

He contacted his daughter Elizabeth, who called 911. She used Find My iPhone app to track Salgado's phone, which helped the police catch the thieves in the next town over. The truck was recovered and returned to Salgado, but all of his landscaping equipment—a lawnmower, edger, leaf blower, and various hand tools—were gone. So was the $1,000.


The suspects each had $500 cash in their pockets, but they insisted it was their own money. Despite the obvious, police couldn't return the money to Salgado; by law, they could only submit the cash as evidence. Anthony Bertagna, a spokesman for the Santa Ana Police Department, told CNN, "He may never get that money back unless they change their story."

Police estimated the total value of the missing items at $3,000, which equaled months of pay for Salgado.

The officers saw their own working-class fathers in Salgado and wanted to help him regain what was stolen.

Sgt. Michael Gonzalez told CNN that when the officers looked at Salgado, it was like looking at their own fathers. "We all came from working-class families," he said. "It was like, 'Hey, that's my dad.'" They knew that without his rent money and tools, there was no way for Salgado to recover from the theft.

The officers' empathy moved them to help Salgado financially. The officers pooled $500 of their own money. Then the Santa Ana Police Officers Association donated another $500.

Seven officers accompanied Salgado to Home Depot to replace his tools and when Home Depot heard the story, they donated $100 toward the cause. They also offered a military discount on the items since some of the officers were reservists.

Even a random stranger in the store offered $40 of their own money when they learned what Salgado and the officers were doing there.

The generosity and kindness from strangers meant the world to Salgado and his family—and moved others as well.

When the Santa Ana Police Department shared the story on their Facebook page, a woman recognized Salgado. "This gentleman is my mother's gardener and has been for over 15 years," she wrote. "He's the most wonderful man. The SAPD couldn't have helped a more considerate person. I'm glad that the good guy won today."

Sgt. Gonzales told CNN that what most amazed him was how Salgado took the tools home and opened them, then immediately went back to work because he had customers to serve. "I've been doing this job for 27 years," Gonzalez said. "Every so often it's a good day. That was a good day."

Salgado's daughter and daughter-in-law shared a video thanking the Santa Ana police department and police association for their help.

SAPD Recover Stolen Landscape Truck Via Phone App

On 27 March 2019, between 11 am - 12 pm, a local man's landscape vehicle was stolen with all of his tools, cash for rent, and a cell phone. Total value estimated at $3k. The man is the sole provider for his family; his daughter called SAPD and reported the crime. Patrol Officers started pursuing the vehicle through an app on the iPhone and were able to locate the truck. The suspects were unwilling to cooperate thus reluctant to provide the location of his property. The Santa Ana Police Officers Association donated funds, and officers escorted the gentleman to purchase new equipment. #sapoa31strong#31strong #santaanapolicedepartment @sapoa31strong

Posted by Santa Ana Police Officers Association on Wednesday, March 27, 2019

"Now I can see my dad with a smile because he knows he's going back to work," said his daughter, Elizabeth.

This chain of kindness brings a smile to everyone's faces. There's simply nothing better than human beings going above and beyond to help a fellow human being in need.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Photo by Tod Perry

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