Sometimes you just need someone to give you a shot.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and for 22-year-old Rashawn times were desperate. He and his father were struggling to meet their most basic needs and rapidly running out of options.

Rashawn had to do something and fast. So, in an act of sheer desperation, he turned to crime.

A Desperate Man Makes a Wrong Decision

Rashawn decided to target the offices of All You Can, a non-profit organization founded by Harrisburg, PA city councilman Ralph Rodriguez. The organization, established in 2019, provides basic needs and emergency resources to at-risk families.

Rashawn was hoping to walk away with some much-needed cash.

What he wasn’t banking on was getting caught in the act.

The night of Rashawn’s b&e attempt, Ralph just so happened to be working late. He confronted Rashawn trying to break into a window and the would-be burglar took off running. All he left in his wake was a grainy image of a man, dressed in a hat, glasses, a mask, and gloves, on a doorbell camera.

It wasn’t enough to make a positive identification. It seemed, for all intents and purposes, to be case closed.

That is until a crisis of conscience changed everything.

Rashawn, unable to live with what he had done, reached out to Ralph on Facebook, confessing his guilt. He was prepared for the consequences, telling Ralph, “I have to be willing to face the consequences and that is what I’m ready to do.”

The ball was in Ralph’s court. He could call the police or he could call Rashawn. He chose Rashawn.

It was a phone call that would change Rashawn’s life.

Fighting Crime with Forgiveness

Ralph Rodriguez/

In speaking with Rashawn, Ralph realized that the young man was not a criminal, but rather someone who was desperate and in need of help.

“I actually took the time to hear his story, see the environment in which he lives in,” Ralph told CBS News. “And I get it. Poverty has a way of pushing you to do things that you would have never imagined you were even capable of doing.”

Ralph decided that the last thing Rashawn needed was a prison cell. What he needed was someone to give him a second chance. Instead of pressing charges, Ralph provided financial assistance, sending Rashawn money for food, clothes, and living expenses.

“Making sure he’s financially good and has some clothes on his back,” Ralph said. “Because what he doesn’t need anymore is any more disappointments. I’m pretty sure people have told him things in his life and dropped the ball 10 out of 10 times. It’s just not what I’m prepared to do.” 

But he didn’t stop there. He took it one step further.

A Desperate Man Finds Hope

Ralph also gave him part-time work, painting the very place he just tried to burglarize. Additionally, he helped him enroll in job training, further setting him up for success.

Rashawn’s life of crime was stopped before it even had a chance to start, all thanks to the compassion and kindness of his would-be victim. And he has no intention of wasting his second chance.

“I thought there would be no one willing to help me, but you never know, you just have to ask. I wasn’t willing to ask,” Rashawn told CBS News.

Desperation can drive people to do things they wouldn’t normally do, and in some cases, those actions can have unexpected consequences.

In the case of Rashawn, a desperate act of breaking and entering turned into a life-changing moment of kindness and support. Ralph could have easily lashed out in anger but he chose forgiveness and empathy instead.

He recognized that so often in life, we never know what someone is going through. Luckily for Rashawn, he did what so many of us wouldn’t — he took the time to find out. And in doing so, he made a dramatic difference in the young man’s life.