Kevin Barber was just your average teenager living in San Diego, California. But all that changed one day when he watched a TED Talk of all things. The video detailed the efforts of a charity based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The basic concept behind the charity? Paying homeless people to help clean up the city. It was so simple and was yielding great results. Kevin was beyond inspired. He immediately knew he had to bring something similar for the homeless of San Diego.
As it turns out, San Diego has the fourth-most homeless people in America. That’s something not many people know. But Kevin knew. And so did his mother, who just happens to be an emergency room doctor. So she’s had her fair share of dealings with homeless people that need help. She was proud of her son and they got to work implementing his plan.
They started where anyone would these days; with a GoFundMe campaign. Here, Kevin eloquently and passionately described how the program, called ‘Wheels of Change’, would work:
“The program is simple. Several days a week a van will pick up homeless people who express an interest in working. The van will take them to work picking up trash, pulling weeds, clearing brush, etc. At the end of the day, workers will be driven back to Alpha Project, or to the City’s new tent structures for the homeless, and will be compensated for their work. Here they may also possibly get shelter arranged.
The goal is to get the homeless connected with social services they need, into housing, and offer them the dignity of working. It empowers people and gives them work. We believe this is a win-win for the City, the homeless, and our community.”
And it turns out he wasn’t the only one who felt that way. San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman also called it a “win-win for everyone” when he gave his support to Kevin. He also added that the initiative provided the secondary benefit of “easing the burden on San Diego’s sanitation department.” Win-win indeed!
The program began and has been a huge success. What a wonderful and inspiring young man! I wish more of today’s youth acted like Kevin. The world just might be a better place if they did.