“Sorry to bother you, but my neighbor’s house caught on fire early this morning, and they woke me up at 3 a.m.,” said South Carolina Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) TSA Officer David Griffith in an early morning call to his supervisor asking for time off.
Griffith explained that his neighbor, their three children and two dogs needed help because they lost almost everything in the fire. “I am just wondering if I could take a day to help this family? It is raining, and I am going to let them stay with me for a few days.”
There’s empathy to go around at GSP; several TSA officers recently experienced devastating house fires, and the GSP team felt this pain before. Adding to the angst, Griffith and his family are also dealing with their own loss, as his father passed away last October.
On Martin Luther King Day, a day dedicated to community service, Griffith put aside his own personal
grief and opened his home to this family in desperate need.
“I wanted to help them out and wanted them to be comfortable in what was a very horrible day for this family,” commented Griffith.
And help out he did!
During the next two days, Griffith moved into his mother’s house and helped the family move into his home, pets and all, until they were able to get their bearings and plan their next steps.
“[Officer] David Griffith is a kind, generous soul. He runs our annual Feds Feed Families event and is a very humble guy,” said TSA Screening Manager John Knight. “He does not seek attention and is simply a good man and a tremendous example of an unsung hero.”
Aside from the new living arrangement, the next challenge was communication. Spanish is the neighbor family’s first language, so Griffith contacted a member of a local church to act as an interpreter and help provide moral support.
Not stopping there, Griffith reached out to his neighbors’ insurance company and acted as the liaison. He made sure the head of the family, also named David, understood the process and was able to explain all the details.
Officer Griffith clearly reflected the TSA core values of integrity, respect and commitment at the most difficult time for his neighbors,” said Griffith’s supervisor, Ruben Idarraga.
Upon hearing of the selfless act by Griffith, South Carolina Federal Security Director David B. McMahon said, “David embodies TSA’s core values and is someone we all should try to model – caring and selfless. He is a hero in my eyes.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The family is doing well and has moved into an apartment while they wait for the insurance company to rebuild their home. We are truly grateful for David’s kindness.