Kansas City police, social workers support family in need

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police, social workers and community groups have banded together to help a California family with nowhere to go.

Police Sgt. AJ Henry found Chantre Russ and her three children sleeping in a parking garage stairwell last month, the Kansas City Star reported. Henry immediately called the Police Department's social workers to help find the family a place to stay, and to ensure that they were kept together. Russ has a 7-month-old baby, a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old.

Russ left California with her children after her oldest child's father was murdered. She chose Kansas City after receiving a letter from the city's public housing authority, but the only shelter with an opening was located in Topeka.

After Henry found Russ, the Police Department's social services coordinator Gina English reached out to local groups for more resources.

Russ and four officers pooled together money for a hotel room. Relatives of officers showed up to the hotel with toys, clothes and food.

"I could see the mother feeling overwhelmed and I could see her going into herself and I looked at her and said, 'I need you to know this is not charity,'" English said. "'This is love. This is support.'"

Since then, local groups have donated diapers, formula and hygiene products. Russ received help from organizations including Healing Pathways, Community Assistance Council, Hope Faith and Holiday Inn.

The family was recently approved for public housing.

"This woman, where she's at, what she's done, she has done everything on her own," English said. "She just needed a support team. She just needed someone to cheer her on and remind her that she's made it this far and she can continue to go further."

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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