A New Jersey Transit police officer helped a homeless man find his children after he hadn’t seen them in over two decades.
Jose Lopez left Long Branch years ago to live in Florida. While he was there he lost everything – his home, his job and communication with his loved ones.
When Lopez returned to New Jersey, a chance encounter with Officer Josua Robles turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“When I asked him ‘Where are you headed?’ he said, ‘Long Branch.’ And I said, ‘What’s out there?’ and he said it was his family,” Robles says. “So I said, ‘If you have their information I can contact them for you,’ and he said he didn’t have their information.”
So Robles turned Crisis Outreach Officer Sean Pfeiffer a 2017 CIT-NJ Center of Excellence Graduate from the Union County Program Class #99 who got to work looking for Lopez’s family.
“As a father and as a son myself I wanted to make sure I did everything I possibly could to find to Mr. Lopez’s family,” Pfeiffer says.
Pfeiffer says that he took it upon himself to cold call dozens of people in New Jersey, leaving voicemail messages, looking for Lopez’s daughters. He says that he finally found them.
“I called my sister and I was like, ‘Something weird is happening, I got a call from NJ Transit police talking about dad,’ and she said, “Wait I got the same number,’” says Angela Viviani, one of Lopez’s daughters.
Arrangements were made to get everyone to meet. Pfeiffer then arranged for Lopez to get a haircut, a shave and some new clothes. Lopez and his two daughters then had an emotional reunion.
“As soon as Officer Pfeiffer walked him in it was just immediate. I saw his face, I remember the eyes,” says daughter Kristie Viviani.
Kristie was 17 and Angela was 10 the last time they saw their father. Now he gets to meet his grandchildren for the first time.
“I’m in heaven. I have my two best girls and my new friend,” Lopez says.
Lopez is now working with a program through the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris County to find permanent housing.