CLIFTON, N.J. — It was never an option not to stop when Dana Vigilante passed by a family out in the cold in Clifton.
Vigilante left Clifton Commons in mid-January and saw a woman with her young daughter standing outside with a blanket wrapped around them. They were headed back home to Newark and Vigilante offered them a ride.
The family said they fled from Ecuador to escape the mother's husband after he tried to kill her, Vigilante said. They had trouble making ends meet and finding work after coming to America, so Vigilante stepped in to help.
Since their first meeting, Vigilante said she received many clothing donations to help the family.
"They're a good family," she said. "They're having a really tough time. We're making things a lot easier for them I know that."
Vigilante, 48, bought dinner and groceries for the family soon after meeting them. She texts them just about every day and said they've been very grateful.
"She couldn't stop thanking me," she said of the mother. "She was just crying."
Vigilante said she's focused on finding jobs for the mother and her 19-year-old son.
A Nutley resident, Vigilante works in the hospice field. Helping others was instilled in her from a young age by her parents, she said.
"I don't think I did anything that great," she said. "I just did what I did. That's what we're supposed to do in life, be good to other people."
TO DONATE: Call Vigilante at 973-477-5709 to help the family or with a job lead for the mother and son.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.