After the internet found out about this young man’s plight, people stepped up in a big way to help the 19-year-old accomplish his dream of becoming a doctor.
Fred Barley isn’t like most students his age. Intent on attending Gordon State College, where he is soon to begin his second semester, he biked six hours in the Georgia heat to register for classes days earlier than his peers.
Another main reason he arrived early was to claim a good job that would allow him to afford college, as he was, at the time, homeless. Borrowing his brother’s bike, the 19-year-old rode from Conyers to Barnesville with only two duffel bags and two gallons of water in his possession.
Upon arriving at the campus, he pitched his tent near some bushes and prepared to spend the next few weeks there. His only food? A box of cereal to sustain him during that time, reports WSBTV News.
Lucky for him, two cops wandered across his temporary campsite and, rather than issue him a ticket, decided to help him out. Barley had just returned from job-searching on Saturday night when the officers approached him in his tent.
They told Barley to come out with his hands up, but then realized that he wasn’t a threat, but an individual in need of some assistance. After sitting down with the aspiring doctor, they learned of his story.
Fred told them that sleeping on campus until school started seemed to be a much safer place than staying homeless in Conyers. They could have ignored his struggle and sent him on his way, but their response was much more compassionate.
The officers took Barley to a motel and paid for his two nights there. Then, after one of the officers’ wives learned of Fred’s plight, she posted his story on a Barnesville community Facebook page and hundreds of people — including Casey Blaney — stepped up to help.
Not only did the motel owner and Blaney pay for Barley to stay in the motel until his dorms will allow him to move in early in August, he was hired as a dishwasher by a local pizzeria.
In addition, a GoFundMe campaign was set up to help Barley achieve his dreams, and at present, it has raised over $150,000! People have also donated clothes, school supplies, shoes, a new bike, and are working to get him a car. Others have also stepped up to help him with his dental needs.
“I was shocked by how much support people will give from Lamar County and counties all over, and even 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.
Despite all of the gifts, it’s the friendships he’s made that matter most, says Fred.
“Some of the gifts aren’t as important as the friends I’ve made. More important than everything — the clothes, the shoes — the relationships mean so much more to me,” he told the press.
Reflecting on how the officers helped the whole life transformation happen, he said:
“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.
This young man’s future is looking much more optimistic, thanks to peoples’ generosity.
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