Fred Barley, a 19-year-old homeless student, has gained national attention after he rode his bike six hours to Gordon State College in Barnesville, Georgia, and then pitched a tent to sleep in for the night.
According to the Herald-Gazette, the police received a phone call on June 10 from a concerned citizen. The call was made to report a tent that was pitched near the college’s parking area off of Holmes street. Gordon police officer Dicky Carreker and Barnesville police officer Maria Gebelein arrived at the location Saturday night and requested the occupant of the tent come out with his hands visible. That’s when Fred Barley emerged from the tent and shared his touching story with the officers after showing them his Gordon I.D. card.
Barley, 19, is homeless and desperately trying to receive an education. Last week, he rode for six hours on a 20-inch bicycle from Conyers to the Gordon campus, traveling with nothing but a duffle bag, a tent, a box of cereal, and two gallons of water. Fred is a biology major, and made the long trip to register for his second semester of classes. He also wanted to arrive at the college with enough time to find a job — when he wasn’t in his tent, Fred was out on his bike filling out job applications.
“After meeting Fred, I could tell he was a good kid,” Carreker told the newspaper. “He was a young kid who had been dealt a bad hand and was trying to make the best out of it. All he wanted was a job.”
Fred’s story touched the officers, who decided to give them what money they had in their wallets. They also took Barley to the Sun Inn motel, where they each paid for him a night’s stay.
“Fred told us this would be his second semester at Gordon as a Biology major and we could tell he was serious about his education,” Geblein said. “We helped him because we felt it was the right thing to do.”
“The stuff that’s happening with police officers, I am black and he didn’t care what color I was. He just helped me, and that meant a lot,” Barley said.
Later that night, Carreker’s wife posted a message on Facebook about her husband’s encounter with the homeless teen. Not long after posting the message, members of the Barnesville’s community decided to do something to help Barley; they got together and purchased the college student gift cards, food, clothing and a brand new men’s mountain bike. According to WSB-TV, members of the community are also pitching in to buy Barley a car, and the college is allowing him to move into the dorms early so he will have a place to stay. A local pizzeria, DB’s Pizzeria, also hired him as a dishwasher so that he could work while going to school.
“I created a position for him before he walked in my door. I didn’t know his name. I didn’t know the color of his skin. I didn’t care. I’ve been there so I guess I had a soft spot for anyone who is that determined to succeed in life,” the pizzeria owner Debbie Adamson said.
Casey Blaney, the owner of the Sun Inn Motel, created a GoFundMe page for Barley to help him raise money to get him through college. The fundraiser originally had a goal of $30,000, and in only two days, that goal has been surpassed, with a total of $62,715 being raised by 1,812 people.
“I was not expecting any of this support and am in awe of how this community has come together to help me,” Barley added. “I was just trying to go to school, find a job and make it on my own. Now it seems as though I am part of a new community and have a new family.”
[Photo via Shutterstock]