An unlikely friendship struck between a police officer and a homeless veteran in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Despite their selfless service to their country, life was not kind to everyone who wears a uniform. When Gwinnett County police officer Dena Walker Pauly was on duty, something made her pause at the elderly man standing in his pawn shop. Bob appeared to Dena as someone who could use a friend, so she jumped at the chance to act as a guardian angel. The duo’s story speak volumes about the power of friendship and kindness to transform lives.
Officer Dena Walker Pauly worked full-time for the Gwinnet County Police in Lawrenceville, Georgia, while also caring for her family. Working as a police officer can be demanding, and the relationship between cops and the public can be strained. Little did Dena realize, she was about to meet someone on her beat that would alter her life.
Dena answered a call from a small, local pawn shop owned by a man named Bob. Everyone has a story, and Bob’s was fraught with tough times. The man had no friends or family to speak of, was homeless most of his life, and he had suffered a stroke that left him mostly non-verbal. Something about Bob made Dena want to be there for him.
A Friendship Begins
Dena was shocked after taking Bob back to his apartment. The senior’s living conditions were apalling, so Dena started making regular visits to clean and help Bob learn better sanitation skills. Bob would receive visits from Dena to chase away the loneliness, and the police officer would bring over food and needed supplies. Fellow police officer, Shannon Volkadov, documented the two-year friendship between Dena and Bob on Facebook. Shannon had this to say on their first meeting. “My sweet friend arrived at the pawn shop and was also unsure how to assist Bob, but she sensed he needed help…”
As time passed and Dena and Bob bonded, Bob’s health began to deteriorate. Without hesitation, Dena stepped up to obtain Power of Attorney to make medical decisions for the veteran. Dena adopted Bob into her a family; a stark contrast to others who would walk away or ignore someone in need of a friend. When Bob became grievously ill, Dena knew there wasn’t much time left. She made the difficult decision to place Bob in hospice care. Whenever possible, Dena made time to visit her dear friend, and let him know how much he was loved.
Never Walk Alone
Officer Shannon Volkadov was moved to take a picture of Officer Dena and her friend Bob during his last moments. While Bob laid in his hospital bed, Shannon noted about Dena. “She held his hand and told him many times that she loved him.” Shannon told Bob how much he had “changed [Dena’s] her life forever.” It was hard to say goodbye, but after Bob passed, a local funeral parlor offered their services free of charge for the veteran. In a world that has become increasingly hostile toward police officers, Shannon wanted Bob and Dena’s story to send a message. “This photo depicts the true nature of law enforcement officers.”
On Facebook, the officer and homeless veteran’s story received 760 likes, 57 comments, and 73 shares. Users responded positively and were moved by the friendship, leaving comments on WBIR Channel 10’s Facebook page. Some gems came from users like Jane O’ Brien, “Wow, what a beautiful thing you did for this man,”or Debbie Wirges who responsed, “There are angels among us and you are truly one.” There were plenty of users who commented, “God bless.” Though the news can often be filled with stories of despair, violence, and the ulgy side of humanity, there is still hope, compassion, and love in this world.
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