Wheels for Change

Homeless people in San Diego, California, are being given jobs from the most unlikely of sources; a 16-year-old boy.

Kevin Barber is helping the homeless men and women earn money, accommodation and gain recognition from their community through the simple act of cleaning up litter and debris.

The teenager was inspired by a TED Talk video about a similar scheme in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and – along with his mother – set about plans to instigate it in his hometown.

By reaching out to the local government and city council, Kevin's program, which is called Wheels for Change, is currently running a six-month pilot in view to making this a permanent fixture in the city.

According to CNN, San Diego officials and local politicians are said to be considering financing the program moving forward, which already sees participants get paid $11.50 an hour.

Picture:Picture: Wheels for Change

Kevin's mother, Carolyn, was so confident and supportive of her son's goal that she invested her own money to initially pay for the project.

In addition, there is also a GoFundMe campaign for the initiative, which has already raised $6,530 of their $80,000 target.

Wheels for Change is run by the local non-profit homeless organisation Alpha Project and they have already noticed the positive impact that it is happening on citizens.

Bob McElroy, who is a volunteer for Alpha Project, told CNN:

It's just so medicinal for our folks who have always been marginalized and irrelevant.

Lord have mercy, our folks just wanted to participate. 

San Diego is going to be spotless by the time we are through with this.

Workers are picked up by a van from the downtown homeless shelter and travel to different locations of the city and set about cleaning up their designated area.

Once their days' work is complete, the participants are then expected to spread the word of the project among other homeless people – and it is clearly proving popular, as CNN reports that the waiting list is already 150 names long.

One person it has already helped out is Susan Graham, who only a few weeks ago was having suicidal thoughts, but after seven days with the program has already been placed in an apartment in the city.

She said:

To give back means a lot to me because they have given so much to me.

This is a miracle. I am a miracle.

Other schemes of a similar nature are now said to be happening all over the United States but, for Kevin, he is just focused on getting another van and helping more people.

He adds:

Our goal is to get another van and have it go more days of the week.

Helping as many people as we can.


Keep reading...Show less
Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)