RICHMOND, Va. -- Tonya Brooks is smiling and laughing here inside her Decatur Street home, but to understand the significance of this smile, you have go back a few days.
"It was the most god-awful thing that I’ve ever experienced in my life."
Her family lost power to their home, after heavy winds and then a snowstorm wreaked havoc here in her south Richmond community. Her household and dozens of others were not only in the dark, but without heat as a blast of bitter cold blew into Central Virginia.
Tonya made a desperate phone call for help.
“The EMT guy said 'I want you guys to get out of this house, I don't want to come back here tomorrow and to get bodies out,’ that's exactly what he said and that was a hard thing to hear,” she said.
Her grandmother was taken to the hospital, to stay warm, and Tonya and her mother were powerless, and feeling hopeless. But then another call was made, this time to Richmond Police.
That caring cop is Brian Rogers.
Tonya was frustrated and concerned that her wheelchair-bound mother would not have access inside the warming shelter that seemed like their only alternative to weather the power outage.
But Officer Rogers came up with another plan to find a hotel for Tonya and her mom.
“He was going to pay for it,” she said. “It was the most thankful thing you could ever hear.”
As to why Officer Rogers, a father of five would pay to shelter complete strangers, well, he explained.
“I’ve been in her position that I felt her pain and because of her medical issues, I felt it was absolutely necessary,” he said.
Tonya said he’s a true example of the force’s motto: To protect and serve.
"I’m so thankful,” she said. “I’m telling you they restored my faith in faith that was gone, it was really gone. And I’m so thankful."