Free stay for officers and their families - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Free stay for officers and their families

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Having health problems can be stressful enough and for those traveling from out of town - seeking care at one of our local hospitals - finding somewhere to stay just adds to the bill.

But there's a place in Rochester offering police officers and their families a free stay.

Angie Chouinard is settling into what she will be calling home for the next couple of weeks as she continues to have tests run at Mayo.

Chouinard says, "That's a long time that if we had to worry about a hotel cost we couldn't do it."

She's one of the many who have had the unique opportunity to stay free of charge at the Residences of Old Town Hall.

Officer Donnie Bray explains, "They're coming into a city that they don't know anything about and they're bringing their family and their kids and what we're doing is putting them in a secure building in a good neighborhood.

Officer Bray started the program in 2008 after witnessing the need first-hand. He says, "A friend of mine was hospitalized for a month and they exhausted all their savings and his wife had to stop working and I thought, wow, with the medical bills and her staying in a hotel we need to find something for our fellow brothers and sisters in law enforcement."

Angie's the wife of a St. Paul officer. Her room has just enough space that her husband and three sons can keep her company while she's going through her many tests.

And Angie's not alone in the journey she's taking. More than 200 officers and their families have signed the guest book at the Residences of Old Town Hall.

Cory and Amber Ballard are on that list. The Ballards explain, "We can't even begin to tell you the weight it takes off our shoulders, knowing that we don't have to worry about where we're going to have to sleep that night. Financially it's already been pretty heavy on us."

The couple has had a whirlwind of issues all summer as Cory's father continues to recover in ICU and the family recovers from a 3 month premature birth.

Cory says, "She had been at Mayo for three weeks and June 24th the baby decided she was coming three months early and she was born one pound 13 ounces."

Cory has been in law enforcement for 13 years, and like many in the force, he says it has become a family that takes care of each other in and out of the world of work.

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