‘We sometimes need a shoulder to lean on’ - Police recruits rally around fellow recruit in need

Posted: Updated:

A Port Authority police recruit has learned just what it means to have each other’s backs.

Recruit Vanessa DaSilva is about halfway through her training to become a Port Authority police officer. About three weeks ago, the Army reservist went home from the academy to find her family’s home engulfed in flames. It was the Kearny home that she lived in with her mother, brother and family dog.

“I got a call saying the house was on fire. So, I got there as soon as I could,” DaSilva says.

DaSilva’s mother was hurt in the fire but will be OK. The family dog did not survive. And the home was destroyed.

When DaSilva’s fellow recruits heard about her loss, they sprang to action to help. Recruits Rob Greff from Lincoln Park and David Atkinson from the Bronx started a GoFundMe page. They set the goal at $25,000 – it raised more than $27,000.

“People forget, as recruits, we have our lives going on at home. And we’ve got people we need to take care of and things we need to do besides being at this academy,” Atkinson says. “We sometimes need a shoulder to lean on.”

The fundraiser was kept a secret for more than a week.

“The day that I found out, Greff had called me and I was shocked,” DaSilva says. “Three months of knowing me – a few months of knowing me and you’ve got my back?”

DaSilva says that the money will really help out her family. But she says that the more valuable thing is the knowledge that as she starts her new career, she knows that her fellow officers will have her back.

“I can’t wait to prove to them that I’m going to be a great cop,” she says.

The GoFundMe page for DaSilva is still taking donations.

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