Homeless Student Lives in Tent Before College Starts; Then Community Helps

By Sherley Boursiquot, Epoch Times
July 15, 2016 Updated: July 15, 2016

While tensions have heightened between police officers and civilians in some places around the country, two security officers went out of their way to help a 19-year-old who was caught sleeping in a tent on a local college campus.

Fred Barley rode his little brother’s 20-inch bike for six hours in 100 degree weather from Conyers to Barnesville, Georgia, to register for his second semester of college classes.

He had two duffle bags of possessions, two gallons of water, and a box of cereal.

Before the dorms opened in August, Barley arrived at Gordon College and set up a tent in a bush with the intention of living there. He planned to stay for the next few weeks until he was able to find a job.

Barley figured if he arrived in town early—before the other students—he might have a better chance of getting a part-time job.

On July 9, Barley spent the entire day job-hunting. When he got back to his tent later that night, he was met by officers passing by.  They told Barley to come out with his hands up.

Barley, a biology major, who hopes to become a doctor one day, explained to them why he was sleeping in the bushes, and instead of giving him a ticket for trespassing, the officers took him to a local motel and paid for his next two nights. 

The college also offered to let him move into his dorm room on July 18.

Little did Barley know, there was even more in store for him.

One of the cops told Barley’s story to his wife, who then shared it on social media. Her post quickly went viral, and everyone in the community wanted to help, including Casey Blaney.

Once Barley’s two days were up in the motel, she decided to go find him.

When she did, she gave Barley the little bit of cash she had on her and went around town to find employment for him.  He told her he would take any job.

Barley is now a dishwasher at a pizza parlor.

Blaney also took Barley shopping, buying him shorts and shirts for his new job.

Yet, with all of the help Blaney has given Barley, she didn’t think it was enough, so she set up a GoFundMe page on July 12, “Success for Fred.” As of  July 15, she has raised more than $60,000 for the student.

“I am in awe of your determination and your will to do whatever it takes to advance your education. It was an honor for me to sow a financial seed to you. I will definitely keep you in prayer and keep checking in to see if there are things you may need throughout your college career. I have no doubt that you are going to do amazing things,” a woman wrote on the fundraising page.

“You got this Fred don’t ever give up. Follow your dreams we all know you can achieve greatness,” wrote another commenter.

A man even offered to help Barley with his resume.

“Good cause. If Fred will contact me, I will provide a professional resume for him,” he wrote on the fundraising page.

Blaney also created a community Facebook page for Barley called, Success For Fred. People have been giving him words of encouragement and offering help. He was offered free dental care and attorney fees to set up a trust fund so his money will go toward his education.

As Barley’s story has gone viral in a matter of a week, donations started pouring in. People have donated clothes, school supplies, shoes—even a new bike, and they are now working to get him a car. 

On July 14, Barley recorded a video, which was posted to the Facebook community page by his girlfriend, Shaina Boyd, thanking everyone who’s helped him. He said he “can’t come up with even half the words” to express his thanks.

“I love you all and I want to make all you guys proud,” he said. 

Last weekend’s trip to college wasn’t the first time Barley has lived in a tent. This summer he had been living in a tent 50 miles away from campus, but he knew continuing his college education would be the only way to end his homelessness.

“I can take it out there and sleep in a tent without a job, or I can come down here and do something and apply my life and make something better for it,” he told WAGA News.