At just 19 years old, a young college student has shown ultimate dedication towards a brighter future. Fred Barley, a homeless college student, rides his brother’s bike for 6 hours a day just to get to school.
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Barley, traveled from Conyers to Burnsville to register for classes in his second semester of college–all through the sizzling heat of a Georgia summer. For the long trek, Barley traveled with 2 duffel bags carrying all his belongings including a 2 gallon jug of water.
But how did this story come to be? Police stumbled upon his tent outside a local college this past weekend. Instead of giving Barley a ticket for trespassing, they listened to his story and were amazed by his dedication and that’s where this amazing story begins.
The dorms at Gordon State College don’t open until August, so Barley pitched a tent in some bushes on campus, outside the gates, with nothing more than a box of cereal to eat for the next few weeks. Shortly after he made his home in the bushes, the police were notified of a man trespassing. They told Barley to come out with his hands up, but they soon realized that something wasn’t right with the situation.
The officers then sat with the young college student, who explained his inspirational story. Barnesville Police Officer Maria Gebelein informed Barley that the police couldn’t allow him to camp where he was, but they found him another option. Without a second thought the officers took Barley to a local motel and paid 2 nights in advance.
“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.
The story then started to be shared via Facebook and hundreds of people through the Burnsville community started to take notice, including Casey Blaney who stepped up to help Barley. Blaney, who is the owner of a local pizzeria, hired him as a dishwasher and promised to work around his class schedule. Other residents have donated clothes, food and a new bike.
Barley was shocked at the overwhelming support from the two officers and citizens alike. So much so that a GoFundMe page was started. As of Saturday it surpassed $150,000.”People from across the country that I’ve never met just wanted to help so much in my life. I was just so shocked and grateful,” Barley said.
“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.”