When police officers were called to investigate a tent set up outside a Georgia college, they didn’t expect to find inspiration.
The officers were called July 9 to a campsite near a Gordon State College parking lot, where they found a 19-year-old homeless student staying in a tent hidden in some bushes, reported The Herald-Gazette.
The officers ordered him out of his tent with his hands up, but they listened to his story instead of writing a ticket for trespassing.
Fredrick Barley had ridden six hours — and more than 50 miles — on his younger brother’s 20-inch bicycle and arrived about a month early for his second year as a biology major, with nothing but his tent, a duffle bag, a box of cereal and two gallons of water.
The student, who hopes to go on to medical school, wanted to make sure he had enough time to find a job before classes began, and he spent his days riding his too-small bike to fill out applications at local businesses.
“(The officer) was so understanding, and he said, ‘I definitely I applaud you for doing this. We can’t allow you to stay here, but I have somewhere you can stay,’” Barley 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 had been camping for three days before officers found him — and they were immediately impressed by his character.
“After meeting Fred, I could tell he was a good kid,” said Officer Dicky Carreker, of Barnesville police. “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.”
Carreker and Officer Maria Gebelein gave the student all the money they had in their wallets and took him to a nearby motel, where they each paid for one night’s stay.
“We could tell he was serious about his education,” Gebelein said. “We helped him because we felt it was the right thing to do.”
Carreker’s wife posted the story on Facebook, and community members rallied around the student.
Local residents bought gift cards, food and clothing for Barley, and they bought him an adult-sized mountain bike and are working to get him a car.
Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world.