Olivia Rigdon, her husband Cody and their two children have been homeless in Turlock for nearly three years, using what little money they make at work to pay for nightly motels and keep a roof over their heads. When they were turned away from one motel last week, a family came up to them not to offer a ride to the next motel, but to offer them a place to shower, a trip to the store and something the family had never received from strangers before: love.
Michael Campos and his family, of Newman, were running errands and had stopped by the McDonald’s on West Main Street in Turlock for some ice cream. When he saw the Rigdon family with their two young children and tents on their back, he knew he had to help.
The moment the two families’ paths crossed, a new family was born. Neither are sure why they were brought together by chance, but now, they hope their friendship can teach the community not to judge a book by its cover.
“We talked to them for about an hour, because both of us wanted to be safe. It kind of just hit me, and I asked, ‘Why don’t you just stay with us?’” Campos said. “I’m a big believer in God and it sounds crazy, but sometimes He tells us to do things that might not make sense at first.”
The Campos family took the Rigdon family to Target and bought them new clothes, shoes, hygiene products and more. Campos’ posted about the Rigdons on community Facebook pages and garnered even more support from those who live in Newman, who dropped off clothes and more for the children, ages 12 and three, and raised money for the family’s continued motel stays. A hair salon in Newman, Unique by Design, even cut Olivia Rigdon’s hair for free.
The Rigdons were able to shower at the Campos home, and for the first time in a long time felt like they had someone in their corner, Rigdon said. Since becoming homeless in 2019, their work schedules at both Taco Bell and Circle K, the fear of being split up and concern for their children’s safety has kept them out of shelters.
Now, both families say they feel like they were meant to find each other.
“It was overwhelming and it was eye opening,” Olivia Rigdon said. “I had given up on acts of human kindness and I never expected them to welcome us with open arms. There’s a stereotype about homeless people, but we don’t do drugs. We’re just doing our best and doing everything we can to care for our kids.”
The Rigdons’ 12-year-old daughter now calls Campos “uncle,” he said, and the families now share an unbreakable bond.
“We struggled that night when they went back to the hotel, and both me and my fiancé cried because it was so emotional,” Campos said. “We have kids of our own, so to see them out there struggling with their tiny eyes but still having smiles on their faces, it’s hard to put into words.”
The Campos family continues to help the Rigdons, and has created a GoFundMe account to help them continue to afford hotels. Rigdon said she hopes to save enough for a trailer, which would help alleviate the stress of trying to find a place to stay every night.
Both families hope that their story can inspire other acts of kindness, and remind others that even though someone is homeless, they’re part of the community, too.
“Just follow your heart. Sometimes God puts you in a situation that isn’t going to make sense to anybody else, but you just have to follow His word and let Him do the rest,” Campos said. “Take a risk on showing people love. A little bit of love helps, and it can go a long way.”