DELRAY BEACH, Fla.-- Delray Beach Police Detective Adrian Rackauskas was awarded the community policing award at this year's ASIS Law Enforcement Awards.
Rackauskas was honored for his work helping a single mother get back on her feet. He first met Gigi Vargas during Thanksgiving 2016, when he brought the family a turkey dinner. They were living in a motel.
"The day I went to deliver the turkey dinner there was a guy smoking crack right outside the door, so that really bothered me that they are living on the second floor of the motel and her kids can't even go outside," Rackauskas says.
He added: "When I delivered it to her I noticed that she had some Christmas lights up and stuff and I mentioned 'oh, Christmas is around the corner' and she got very emotional, she grabbed me by the arm and took me outside and told me 'please don’t mention that I don’t have money for gifts for the kids for Christmas.' "
The family had fallen on hard times and Rackauskas wanted to help. After getting to know Gigi and her kids, he was hooked. "It was all about her kids, and I guess she pulled at my heart strings with the kids," he said.
Going above and beyond his call of duty, Rackauskas went to work. He coordinated with a local organization called Wheels from the Heart to get the family a car and he found Gigi a job and finally a better place to call home.
Rackauskas says: "I knew if we could find her a steady job, she could be back on her feet. She's a hardworking person who was stuck in a rut and just needed a little assistance."
She calls him an angel for the family. Gigi now works at the French Bakery in Delray Beach, a job she says she loves. She loves to cook, and plans to go to culinary school.
She says: "I have a place to live, I have a place to call home for my kids. When you wake up every day and you come to work in one place. That's important."
Gigi says her three kids are doing much better now too; all on the honor roll.
"She's extremely happy. When I saw her (today) I noticed on her face she's a lot happier. She's actually moving forward with life, and she's doing great," Rackauskas says.
Gigi says the detective is now a part of the family, and "gave them a new life."
The two keep in touch and expect this friendship to last a long time.