Peoria police officer takes in teen with rough home life

- For police officers, no day can be considered "routine", as they come into contact with dozens of people on a daily basis, and sometimes, it doesn't have a good outcome.

For one Valley police officer, however, one of his contacts involved a teenager facing an uncertain future, and that officer went above and beyond, when it comes to helping him.

As a result, both lives were changed.

It all began when Peoria Police officer Brandon Sheffert was out on a routine night patrol in September 2014, when something looked out of the ordinary.

"We were just driving around patrolling, and we noticed this kid who was sprinting down 85th Avenue," said Sheffert. "We were kinda like, 'this is odd. Nobody sprints like that, so let's stop this kid'."

It turns out the stop will go on the change the life of Anthony Schultz. He was 16 at the time, and he was really just out for a jog.

"Something about it bugged me, because I couldn't get through to him," said Sheffert. "He just seemed like there was something going on, and that there was something that was hurtful going on that he would say."

From there on, Sheffert began stopping by the apartment complex where Schultz lived with seven other family members, in a one-bedroom apartment. Sheffert would stop by, whenever he was in the area, as a way to check on Schultz and make sure he was staying out of trouble.

"I kept coming over here, talking to him, spending time with him, getting to know him, getting to know the family, understand what's going on," said Sheffert.

Eventually, through the YMCA Reach & Rise program, Sheffert became Schultz's official mentor. For Schultz, the visits meant the world to him.

"I had a role model," said Schultz. "I had someone I could look up to. I had someone I could aspire to be."

Eventually, Sheffert would make an even bigger impact on Schultz's life.

"It got to a point one night where I get a phone call," said Sheffert. The call was from Schultz's mother.

"You need to come take him. I can't take him anymore," said Sheffert, recounting what Schultz's mother said to him on the phone. "I was like, 'whoa, whoa, whoa. That doesn't make sense.'"

Sheffert said Schultz had nowhere else to go, and no other family to go to. Sheffert and his family allowed Schultz to stay for a few days, until things at Schultz's home got better. Schultz, however, was homeless once again when he turned 18 in November.

"This kid just keeping getting hit over and over with things that no kid should have to go through," said Sheffert.

Sheffert and his wife then made a major decision: to welcome Schultz into their home, for as long as he needed.

"We have taken him in as one of our own," said Sheffert. "Even my kids say he's their big brother, and they love it."

Schultz has thrived in his new environment: learning how to drive, getting his first job, having his own bedroom, and perhaps more importantly, not having to worry about things many teens take for granted.

"I don't have to worry about food," said Schultz. "I don't have to worry about other things some kids shouldn't have to worry about."

Since moving in with the Shefferts, Schultz has gone on vacations with the family, and even took his first plane ride. This month, Schultz will mark an important milestone: becoming the first person in his family to graduate high school on-time, in 30 years.

"One person can make a difference in any person's life," said Schultz. "Brandon [Sheffert]'s that person that made a difference in my life."

Schultz went on to say that without Sheffert's help, his life might have taken a turn for the worse.

"If [Sheffert] weren't there night, there would be no one else, in my opinion," said Schultz. "I don't think I would be here. I wouldn't be the person I am. I could be in jail for all I know."

Schultz has adjusted well to his new family and life, and he is excited for what the future holds.

"I feel as though there's not a lot stopping me, at this point," said Schultz. "I love the positivity. I love having someone that believed that I could do anything, and ultimately helped me succeed in life, and help me make it to the Army."


YMCA Reach & Rise Mentoring Program
https://valleyymca.org/get-involved/community-programs/youth/reach-rise-mentoring-program/

Homeless Youth Connection Arizona
http://hycaz.org/

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